It's raining tablets today.
The morning began with retail availability of Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT ) Surface 2 line, followed by Nokia's (NYSE: NOK ) unveiling of its first Windows tablet. Things don't really get exciting until Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) dusts off its new iPad line, but this so-called Tablet Tuesday failed to birth a slab that speaks the market leading language of Android.
We know that Apple's going to be a force. The masses may flock to cheaper Android hardware, but folks that actually use their tablets -- as well as the many schools and companies "going iPad" -- will eat into anything that the consumer tech giant puts out. Microsoft's going to have a hard time to get its expensive Surface 2 Pro to make a dent in the marketplace, but at least it fills a serviceable need for high-end PC users that want a true Windows 8 experience on a flat portable device.
Then we get to Surface 2, which seems about as necessary as Grown Ups 2. If the first one was a stinker, why bother with the sequel? Microsoft took a $900 million charge to write off its mistake in putting out the original limited tablet backed by Windows RT. Slightly improving the hardware and shaving $50 off the cover charge isn't going to be enough. But even Surface 2 isn't the real loser of Tablet Tuesday. That honor has to go to Nokia.
The Finnish smartphone maker finally got into the tablet market, and it's once again thanking Microsoft for running the company to the ground by tethering itself even tighter to Microsoft's fledgling mobile platforms. Nokia's Lumia 2520 is decent-looking tablet with respectable specs, but it's not going to go anywhere with its stiff price tag and Windows RT backing.
Yes, Windows RT. The same platform that failed Microsoft at $499 last year is back, and guess Nokia's price point? That's right. It also starts at $499. You don't match the iPad's price and get away with it. History has proven that over the years, and that was with nimbler and earlier companies than Nokia. Yes, the Lumia 2520 also comes with LTE. That will be great for wireless carriers, but there's a reason why 80% of the tablets out there are merely Wi-Fi beasts. Stephen Elop tried to pass that statistic off as a positive for his Lumia 2520, but he missed the point about folks choosing cheaper Wi-Fi tablets because tablets aren't worth cumbersome data plans to most of its users. If you're a serious tablet user -- guess what -- you're not going to want a Windows RT device.
Obviously Nokia is going to do stupid things as it hands over its devices and services business to Microsoft. But why would it rationally choose to put out an overpriced Surface 2? That's not Grown Ups 2. That's Grown Ups 2 and a Half. Nokia wouldn't have had much of a market if it had to put out a tablet with the horsepower to handle Windows 8 the way that Surface 2 Pro does, but this is just a choice between dumb and dumber. Nokia chose dumber.
I know this sounds harsh, but let's see where the Lumia 2520 is when Tablet Tuesday rolls around next year.
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