Apple pioneered the modern tablet industry when it released the original iPad in early 2010. Up until that point, tablet computers were largely unpopular and did not offer nearly the same ecosystem that the iPad delivers. Since that point, a number of tablets based on the Android operating system have been released, but have largely failed to compete with the iPad. In fact, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 was probably the best competitor that the iPad faced before it was temporarily banned in a number of countries worldwide.
Nevertheless, Microsoft decided that it would enter the tablet almost three years late with its new Surface tablet. At Microsoft’s annual shareholder’s meeting on Wednesday, AppleInsider reports that CEO Steve Ballmer admitted that his company was late to the tablet market and added that the Surface was something that “maybe [Microsoft] should have done” sooner. “Sometimes getting the innovation right across the seam between hardware and software is difficult unless you do both of them.”
The Microsoft Surface runs Windows RT, a stripped-down version of the traditional Windows operating system for PCs, specially built for ARM processors. Microsoft is set to launch the Surface Pro running Windows 8 Pro next year, but a number of critics find the operating system’s new modern interface to be rather confusing. Nevertheless, Ballmer notes that Microsoft is continuing to be aggressive with its integrated hardware-software approach, much like Apple has been doing for decades.
“And from a hardware-software perspective, we are really pushing forward aggressively on that boundary,” Ballmer said, seemingly contradicting his earlier statement, “What we say now is there is no boundary between hardware and software.”
It will be interesting to see the official sales numbers for the Surface tablet at the conclusion of the holiday shopping season. At this point, it does not seem that consumer demand for the Microsoft-branded tablet has been high whatsoever, especially when you consider that Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster found no Surfaces being sold at a Microsoft Store for the whole two hours he observed it during Black Friday. For now, despite declining market share, the iPad continues to dominate tablet sales.