Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory

Once again Microsoft appears to have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, this time repeating a key mistake from the Windows 8 era.  Microsoft was on the path to a coupe, launching the seemingly excellent Surface Go well ahead of Apple’s launch of the next generation of iPad Pros.  It also launched the Surface Pro 6 ahead of Apple’s launch, though with a much smaller lead.  So where did Microsoft go wrong?  NO LTE.  Oh they promise LTE in the future, but futures don’t cut it in this case.  This is exactly where Microsoft (and its ecosystem) screwed up back in 2013, and has continued to screw up in successive launch cycles.

Back in 2013 the excellent Dell Venue 8 Pro, and other Windows tablets, launched with a promise of LTE, and then it never appeared.  Within the Surface line Microsoft has always either ignored LTE, delayed it for well beyond initial launch, and if it did arrive they made it hard to buy (i.e., targeted the business sales channel) rather than featuring it.  Now we have Microsoft singing the praises of “Always-Connected PCs”, but they don’t walk the talk.  For Microsoft, being “always connected” only applies to low-end ARM-based Windows 10 systems.  And they so far haven’t even offered one of those themselves.

With Apple you just select WiFi-Only or WiFi+LTE as part of its normal sales processes, both online and in-store.  And they launch (and generally ship) the LTE models concurrently with the WiFi-Only models.

I was completely ready to spring for a Surface Go the moment I could get one with LTE, and then yesterday Apple launched the new generation of iPad Pros.  There are a few things that the iPad Pro is not good at, like software development, but for my daily on-the-go needs it is near perfect.  And most importantly, I will have one in my hands, WITH LTE, in a couple of weeks.  So the moment has passed Microsoft, and while you keep talking about being always connected Apple is doing a much better job of walking the talk.  The Surface Go likely isn’t going anywhere, and I’m not particularly hopeful about the “Always-Connected PC” initiative either.

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6 Responses to Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory

  1. I find this absolutely outrageous. There is absolutely no technical reason for this. SoC or modem chip have been available for pennies for what, 5 years? How could they possibly make a mistake as bad as this. It beggars belief.

  2. I’ve been waiting for this post. It never ceases to amaze me how Microsoft can continue to blow certain things. No fold over screen on the Surface laptop defies logic, and I too was ready and still am to POUNCE on the LTE Surface Go. Not only is it not here, but I didn’t even hear them talk about it at that Surface event last month, and that is the ONLY reason I tune in.

    I believe there are a TON of people waiting for this, but all Panos can do is tell us how great they are in his tweet. Actions speak way louder than his words at this point. I think this device with LTE, properly marketed with $100 off for the holiday would FLY off the shelves. Isn’t it more important at this point to get it into hands than the profits for such a wealthy company? WTF.

    • halberenson says:

      In the past they have argued, and I’ve disagreed, that LTE is a niche and Apple sells very few LTE iPads as a percentage. But how can you make this big deal about Always Connected and then not make that a priority in your own offerings? That’s the pet that makes me really question their judgement. So my 11” IPad Pro w/LTE is on order and I’ll skip the Surface Go. Maybe in a couple of years they will have gotten their act together and I can reconsider a Windows tablet offering. Peaks may also fly.

  3. joeyong says:

    I’m not surprised and I don’t think you are either Hal. Despite the constant “customer obsession” chants in recent years, the vast majority of MS are still, at best, customer tolerant. Few really know their customers, forget about caring and giving them what they really need. The higher you go, the less in touch they are with reality with VERY few exceptions.

    • halberenson says:

      I think my mistake was thinking about consumers and very small business. A large enterprise might find them more customer obsessed than in the past, and at least they aren’t customer hostile like Oracle!

  4. Brian says:

    Well, it’s announced. Available three weeks after this post, apparently: https://www.zdnet.com/article/microsoft-to-start-shipping-surface-go-tablets-with-built-in-lte-on-november-20/. My guess is that the reason behind this can be derived from your first paragraph (with a little extrapolation). As you said, Microsoft was “launching the seemingly excellent Surface Go well ahead of Apple’s launch of the next generation of iPad Pros”. That was the goal – beat Apple.

    My guess is that the LTE version was scheduled for that launch as well, but testing turned up something and the LTE launch ended up getting delayed until the hiccup was resolved.

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