Microsoft's Surface tablet announcement causes controversy where there is none

Speculation that Microsoft developed its Surface tablets because of a lack of confidence in OEMs is far overblown, as are the predictions that Microsoft will manufacture its own smartphone.

Microsoft’s recent unveilings of Surface and Windows Phone 8 have set the rumor mill ablaze. Although the announcements were mostly well received, it seems that some people in the tech community are dead-set on creating controversy where there is none and tainting Microsoft’s message.

Let’s start with the Surface announcement. Almost immediately after it was made, some folks in the tech community—myself included—speculated that Microsoft’s OEM partners would be none too happy with Redmond making their own hardware. That’s not rocket science; it’s only logical that OEMs would be unhappy that they’d be directly competing with Microsoft’s upcoming tablet hardware.

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If nothing else, Microsoft’s Surface announcement last week has spurred much discussion...

But some pundits have taken the speculation a step further. Some are claiming that Microsoft is releasing the Surface tablets because Redmond is not confident in their OEM partners’ designs. That’s just plain wrong. Yes, Microsoft is obviously privy to their partners’ designs, but it is not releasing Surface because it lacks confidence in its partners. Asus, Lenovo, Acer and others are all capable companies and all have exciting Windows 8-based tablets in the works.

Microsoft is releasing Surface because of the numbers, plain and simple. There’s a pile of cash to be made with a successful tablet. It’s a huge growth market rife with opportunity and Microsoft simply wants to get in on some of the action. Since Microsoft will obviously not be charging itself a premium to license its own operating system, it’s also got some additional flexibility on pricing that partners do not. Microsoft’s size should also give the company significant strength at the negotiating table with hardware suppliers for Surface. This puts Microsoft in a position to maximize profits on tablets, which is what Surface is all about. Not only can Microsoft exploit all of the features of Windows 8, in exactly the way the company envisions, but it can make a pretty penny while doing it. That’s why Microsoft is releasing Surface.

After it was announced that Microsoft would be making its own tablets, there was also immediate speculation that the company would be releasing its own-branded Windows Phone 8-based device. Unfortunately, Microsoft has come right out and said it won’t be doing so, and yet some folks continue to push the idea. And let’s not forget that Microsoft already tried to release its own smartphones. Does anyone remember the failed Microsoft Kin and its successors from a couple of years back? No? Well, neither will most people.

Microsoft’s not going to want a repeat of the Kin situation when it’s already got very strong partners like Nokia, HTC, and Samsung by its side.

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