Yesterday Microsoft announced it lost $900 million due to the dismal performance of their Surface tablets. From what I’ve seen, the Surface should be a decent competitor in the tablet market. So why has it underperformed? I have a theory:
Consumers don’t want a Microsoft or Windows branded tablet
Sure, Microsoft and Windows are successful products, but they aren’t beloved brands like Google, Apple, and Amazon.
Despite great strides by Microsoft programmers, Windows is still synonymous with malware and crashes. It’s a product people use and buy not because they are delighted by it, but because it’s what they use at work1 or because they don't care to switch. Microsoft itself carries a stigma from their antitrust abuses in the 1990s.
You can debate whether or not this is a fair characterization of Microsoft and Windows2, but I don’t think you can discount its effect. Tablets are supposed to be new, cool, and fun. Microsoft and Windows are decidedly not.