Microsoft’s hardware, round 2: Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2
Microsoft doubles down on the Surface, releasing what is primarily a performance bump (faster processor, better battery). A considerable amount of innovation seems to have gone into the covers – which seems to profoundly misunderstand the changed basis of competition from the iPad.
But there’s a very odd detail noted here by Ars:
“There’s a “Best of Skype” promotion, which gives you one year of free international calls and one year of free Skype/Boingo Wi-Fi access”
Odd, in that this is a tablet (or laptop replacement) and not something you’d expect to do a lot of calling on. Interesting, however, in what it might mean for a Nokia-fueled reboot for Windows Phone. By far the biggest price hurdle for smartphones is not the phone itself but the plans behind them. If there was a way that Microsoft could ride Skype to a low cost (meaning both monthly plan and phone) phone, that might be a truly disruptive attack on current leaders. Getting unlimited wifi access through Boingo (eg every major airport) would be one step towards a skype-backed phone. But going wifi only or convincing carriers to play nice with really cheap data plans seems like an uphill battle. Of course, staying with the current status quo doesn’t look great for them either.