Now that we've had a little time to digest the unveiling of Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT ) pseudo-tablet, the Surface Pro 3, the question is whether or not new CEO Satya Nadella and team took a significant step forward in the fast-growing mobile computing market. It's no secret that Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) and its iPad devices dominate the sector. With over 210 million units sold since its inception four years ago, the iPad is clearly an unmitigated success. That's a big mountain for Microsoft to climb, to be sure.
So, how does the Surface Pro 3 stack up compared to the iPad? Not bad, actually. The next step in Microsoft's transition to becoming a devices and services company is a significant one, particularly considering how badly it missed the mark with the over-priced, under-performing Surface RT tablet. Granted, many of the wins Microsoft has enjoyed since Nadella took the helm were in the works prior to his ascension, but with the Surface Pro 3, there are several reasons he can add another arrow to his quiver.
Reason No. 1
What may prove to be the defining feature of the Surface Pro 3 is its positioning in the market. When Microsoft Surface head Panos Panay took the wraps off the new hybrid device last week, he called it the "tablet that can replace your laptop." That's a market that places this new Surface iteration, at least for now, in the enviable position of being in a class of its own.
Panay wasn't shy about alluding to Apple's iPad during his presentation, and one factoid he cited was particularly intriguing. According to Panay, 96% of iPad tablet owners also have a laptop. That's a staggering figure that begs the question, why? It's likely that the portability of a tablet, with its light weight and smaller size, is what differentiates it from the "bulky" laptop, and why so many iFans opt for both. But what if you could combine all the features that appeal to tablet owners into a laptop? Now you can, and it's called a Surface Pro 3.
Reason No. 2
The Pro 3 is Microsoft's thinnest Surface iteration yet. At just over a third of an inch thick, Surface Pro 3 is about the same width as the old iPad. But remember, Pro 3 isn't what most would consider a traditional tablet, making its lean construction that much more impressive. When you add in the fact it's a mere 1.76 pounds, Pro 3 really separates itself from the laptop and tablet pack.
For comparison's sake, Apple's MacBook Air, with its 11 inch screen, weighs nearly 2.4 pounds. Granted, the iPad Air is a mere one pound, but Air is the ultimate tablet with nowhere near the screen size of the Surface Pro 3. Score another one for Microsoft.
Reason No. 3
In addition to the Pro 3's crystal clear screen -- it sports a 2160 by 1440 resolution -- its aspect ratio and enhanced Windows 8 OS translates to users being able to view more, with less. As Panay said during his presentation, the 12-inch Surface Pro 3 allows users to actually view more content than MacBook Air aficionados, even though it sports a 13-inch screen.
Final Foolish thoughts
Thinner and lighter than a traditional laptop and excellent resolution that allows user to see more with less positions the Surface Pro 3 as a legitimate alternative to both a laptop and tablet. And these key features are hardly the only upgrades from prior Surface devices. A digitized pen that's fully integrated with OneNote and instantaneously saves writing to the cloud, improved ergonomics, and a quieter, more energy efficient cooling system are also standard to the Surface Pro 3.
Microsoft is on quite a roll of late: expanding its cloud and data offerings with SAP and closing the Nokia deal, to name just a couple. Now you can add Surface Pro 3 to Microsoft's growing list of recent wins. Making a dent in Apple's tablet and laptop share will be a challenge, there's no doubt about that. But Surface Pro 3 has the features, and Microsoft's diversified revenue sources gives it the time to become a serious player in defining a new pseudo-tablet market.
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