Will the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Replace Your Laptop?

An impressive-looking docking station makes the Surface Pro 3 an interesting alternative for road warriors.

Jun 22, 2014 at 5:00PM

Surface Pro Docking Station

Microsoft is taking direct aim at the laptop market with the Surface Pro 3. Credit: Microsoft.

With Surface Pro 3 tablet, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) isn't aiming for the iPad or Android tablets so much as the entire laptop market. I think the new docking station (pictured above) is key to the strategy.

If you're at all like me, you work on a laptop that converts into a desktop equivalent once you've plugged in all the necessary peripherals: keyboard, mouse, external monitor, printer, and so on. Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 docking station is meant to offer all that, plus audio and Ethernet support.

The decline of the laptop
Laptops are already under assault from tablets. According to a March estimate from IDC, worldwide portable PC shipments are expected to decline 6.5% this year and grow modestly through 2018 -- but still not enough to reach 2013's total.

Yet, for Microsoft, it's actually worse than that. Gartner predicts that only 15% of Internet-connected devices shipped this year will run Windows. Surface Pro 3 is attempting to cauterize a bleeding wound, and slowing growth in the tablet market may be just the opportunity Mr. Softy needs.

According to IDC, tablet sales inched up just 3.9% in the first quarter as businesses held back on purchases amid declining demand among consumers. Apple, in particular, saw iPad shipments slip more than 16% year over year. Novel 2-in-1s such as the Surface Pro 3 may finally push corporate buyers to give tablets a try.

"Although its share of the market remains small, Windows devices continue to gain traction thanks to sleeper hits like the ASUS T100, whose low cost and 2-in-1 form factor appeal to those looking for something that's 'good enough'," said IDC analyst Jitesh Ubrani in a press release.

Cashing in on a megatrend
To be fair, Microsoft might not be the only one to cash in on this trend. Last year, backers funded a  Kickstarter project for a product called DOCKr for turning an iPad into a laptop lookalike, while ASUS built an add-on keyboard for its Android-powered Transformer line that includes extra USB ports and HML support for connecting to an external HDMI monitor.

Any number of similar alternatives could challenge the Surface Pro 3. Or not. Either way, between lagging laptop sales and growing tablet fatigue, Microsoft may be launching its most sophisticated 2-in-1 at precisely the right time.

Leaked: Apple's next smart device (warning, it may shock you)
Apple recently recruited a secret-development "dream team" to guarantee its newest smart device was kept hidden from the public for as long as possible. But the secret is out, and some early viewers are claiming its everyday impact could trump the iPod, iPhone, and the iPad. In fact, ABI Research predicts 485 million of this type of device will be sold per year. But one small company makes Apple's gadget possible. And its stock price has nearly unlimited room to run for early-in-the-know investors. To be one of them, and see Apple's newest smart gizmo, just click here!

Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team and the Motley Fool Supernova Odyssey I mission. He owned shares of Apple at the time of publication. Check out Tim's web home and portfolio holdings or connect with him on Google+Tumblr, or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.

The Motley Fool recommends Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

Don't let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, "I can't believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on."

That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

Click here to learn about this incredible technology before Buffett stops being scared and starts buying!

David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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