While Windows 8 has received plenty of mixed criticism regarding its user interface and the desktop, there’s a more unanimous agreement that it is a pretty damn good tablet OS. But, is Microsoft’s unique approach to tablets going to be enough to even get a foot in the door of the tablet market? After all, it isn’t even so much a tablet market as an iPad market; Apple created this market, and are doing a great job at maintaining a firm grip on it. But, while nothing will kill the iPad anytime soon, it is possible for a product to gain decent share in an Apple-dominated market. Just look at Android.
Nevertheless, while we know what to expect on the software front from Microsoft, something that remains a huge unknown is what hardware for Windows 8 tablets will be like. Sure, we know that they will be based on ARM, but other details – particularly regarding factors such as aesthetics, hardware build quality, and pricing (things that consumers care about) – are yet to be announced. And these are the things that it really boils down to for consumers.
I think that here’s what we could possibly expect as far as pricing: More expensive tablets will be Intel-based, while ARM tablets will be priced in the ballpark of existing Android tablets and the iPad. I mean, it has to be, right? There’s no way that Microsoft would be able to enter this market without competitively pricing their devices. And they know this; look at the Lumia 900. It’s set to make a huge arrival in the U.S. market, poised as an AT&T “hero” device. This means that it will be heavily marketed and sold to consumers throughout AT&T stores nationwide. But, while it is still a flagship Windows Phone device, it’s priced at $99, compared to the $199 cost of the 16GB iPhone 4S and flagship Android devices.
It’s fair to assume, then, that Nokia – and other manufacturers, but I explicitly use Nokia here because not only have they expressed interest in the tablet market, but they also make awesome hardware – may have the intention of launching a flagship Windows 8 ARM tablet that’s also cheaper than its direct competition. So, good hardware that’s competitively priced, running a pretty awesome tablet OS. I don’t think that the iPad will be dethroned anytime soon, but I do think that Windows 8 has a fair chance at beating Android tablets in market share, securing the #2 spot in the iPad-dominated market.