Back in June, when Microsoft's Surface was announced, I wrote a Reuters MediaFile column arguing that it really wasn't a tablet at all. It was a hybrid at best, I said, really going after a piece of the the ultralight market. The target wasn't Apple's iPad — but its MacBook Air.
An ARM-based version of the Surface has been out for about a month. It goes for $500 — same as an entry-level iPad. It's really more like $630 because you do want that cover/keyboard, and the cheaper "touch" one looks cheap compared to the "type" version, and it's only $10 less. While Apple shows people touching the iPad screen Surface's print and TV ads for all tout the cover and the kickstand — terrestrial, not mobile features.
Five weeks after launch Surface hasn't made a dent in iPad sales. CEO Ballmer said earlier this month that sales were modest, and that was on purpose.
But the big shoe drop was always going to be how much Microsoft would charge for the Surface with Windows 8 Pro. This one was going to be more expensive, we all knew. But was it going to carve out a niche for tablet/PC hybrids in the way Apple invented demand for tablets?