Consumer Electronics

Microsoft Moves Into Low-Price Tablet Market Larger Than Apple's

Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) has elected to move into the low-priced tablet market. While the decision has been described as a move against Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), it actually allows Microsoft into a broader market.

The Surface Go has a retail price of $399. Microsoft describes it as “the most portable and affordable Surface product yet.” It can operate as both a tablet and a laptop. It weighs 1.15 pounds and is what Microsoft says is “8.3 mm thin.” The machine is powerful for a tablet, with a seventh Generation Intel Pentium Gold Processor 4415Y. The device works with Wi-Fi, and later in the year Microsoft will release an LTE compatible version.

The first reaction of experts was that the Surface Go will go up against the $329 version of the iPad. But that is a limited view.

Samsung, one of the world’s largest consumer electronics firms has a line of Galaxy tablets that have challenged Apple in the market. Perhaps Samsung’s most direct competitor to Apple’s low-price iPad and the Surface Go is the Samsung Galaxy Tab A family. It runs on the Android OS, has a 10.1-inch screen and a 1.6 GHz Exynos 7870 octa-core Processor. Samsung management knows it has to be in this part of the market because any Apple product it cannot match is a lost opportunity to take on its major competitor.

Lenovo and Asus are also in the low-priced tablet and laptop markets. Each is among the largest PC makers in the United States. Outlets including Best Buy and Amazon carry these products alongside those of Apple, Microsoft and Samsung. The market is crowded, which is a sign it is both significant and lucrative.

Microsoft’s Surface computers have a much broader set of competitors than Apple. That is good news for a company that primarily was a software operation for decades.