Previously, in How to Make Surface RT v2 a Success, I talked about the 3 things Microsoft needs to address to make the Surface RT v2 something that consumers would like to buy. They are really, pretty obvious suggestions: speed, space, and price. Others have suggested that the ability to run legacy apps (instead of just Windows Store, or Metro, apps) would be valuable. I still contend that's not important. And, recent numbers seem to back up my sentiment.
In Surface Stats and Speculation, Paul Thurrott posted some numbers from adduplex that shows that the Surface RT tablet actually has the Surface Pro model beat in worldwide Windows 8 device sales. In fact, the Surface Pro isn't even in the top 5. That tells me that no matter how many people I hear suggest that Surface RT failed because the OS couldn't run legacy apps, they are wrong and truly a minority. Granted, a lot of Surface RT sales were a direct result of the Microsoft conference blowouts this year (WPC, TechEd, etc.), but that doesn't cover it all.
So, it appears, based on the numbers, that the Surface Pro needs more help to be successful than the Surface RT does. Frankly, those numbers surprised me. Did they surprise you, too?
Related: "Review: Microsoft Surface Windows 8 Pro"
Back to the topic at hand: How to make the Surface Pro v2 a success.
Since I threw together the top 3 for the Surface RT v2, I'll keep this uniform and put together the top 3 for the Surface Pro v2, but I also have to add one that I believe will make v2 more appealing due to what the Surface Pro represents. They are: battery life, thickness, price, and included accessories.
To market something as a tablet, you'd expect the battery life to be phenomenal. That's what consumers have come to expect. The Surface RT blows the Surface Pro out of the water when it comes to how long it works on a single power charge. The Surface RT can last all day long, while the Surface Pro might string together a meager 2 hours when used constantly. Even marketed as a laptop replacement, the Surface Pro causes undue stress, particularly when traveling. You simply cannot watch movies, answer emails, check social media, and surf the web on a 4 hour flight and expect to have any juice left once you reach your destination. And, if you have a layover somewhere, you have to fight other travelers for available power outlets just to "bump charge" the Surface Pro to give it some additional battery life.
The battery woes have a lot to do with the CPU and graphics chips used in the Surface Pro. The Intel Core i5 processor is NOT a tablet friendly chip. Microsoft had to construct the Surface Pro differently to use the faster CPU, which leads me to…
Thickness and Weight
Owning both a Surface RT and a Surface Pro I have the unique experience to understand the differences between the two. While the width and height are the same, the thickness of the Surface Pro is immediately noticeable. Due to the additional heat emitted by the Surface Pro, Microsoft had to include dual fans, which meant that the tablet had to be thicker. The thickness of the Surface RT is exactly what a tablet should be. Even though I use the Surface Pro exclusively now (I had to give the Surface RT to the wife), when I walk by the Surface RT sitting on a desk I'll pick it up occasionally just to hold it. It reminds me just how non tablet-like the Surface Pro really is.
Most of you know I'm an exercise nut. I run every day, but I also lift weights 4 times a week. So, you'd think that the Surface Pro weighing a half pound more than the Surface RT wouldn't be a big deal. But, it is. When I ride the stationary bike in my basement, I like to pass the time by playing word games on the Surface. After an hour of pedaling, my wrist realizes just how important a half pound difference truly is. Toting the Surface Pro's 2 pounds through the airport is no big deal, but sitting and using it is.
In truth, the Surface Pro really is a laptop replacement, more so than just a simple tablet. Unless you're an iPad junkie who doesn't mind paying Apple's crazy, over-the-top tablet prices, you understand that a tablet should be priced well under the price of a normal computer or laptop. But, as a laptop replacement you might expect to pay more. Personally, I don't mind that the Surface Pro costs more than the Surface RT. I'll gladly pay more for something that allows me to travel light and still retain all the functionality of my normal setup. The Surface Pro does, indeed, allow me to do that. But, based on the options out there, I can acquire a netbook for over half the price of the Surface Pro. Any standard consumer is going to go the netbook route if left to choose between the price of a Surface Pro and a cheaper alternative.
In the tablet world, price sells. Microsoft is going to need address the pricing structure of the Surface Pro v2 before it can be successful. I think I'd pay $200 more for a Surface Pro than a Surface RT. And, just a suggestion – but, also, Microsoft needs to market the Surface Pro v2 as a business tablet and a laptop replacement, which leads me to…
As a full on laptop replacement, the Surface Pro meets the challenge. But, when you purchase a laptop you expect it to have a keyboard. Surface Pro v2 needs to include the Type Cover accessory. It's fine to separate the keyboard from the device for the Surface RT because of what it is – a consumer oriented tablet. The Surface Pro now includes a digital pen. That's nice, but I rarely use it. What I could really use is a bundled keyboard, built into the lower v2 price.
This is a marketing issue and Microsoft would do well to make huge distinctions between the two different tablet offerings. If you're a consumer, you want this one; if you're a business person, you want this one. With a keyboard bundled with the Surface Pro I'd gladly pay $300 more for the convenience over the Surface RT, but it has to be marketed right.
Someone commented to me on Twitter recently, saying that for the Surface RT to be successful, it needs to run like the Surface Pro. While that would be nice to see, I don't think that's too awful important. In my opinion, the Surface RT is a consumer device while the Surface Pro is a business device. There should be differences compelling enough to each category of purchaser. I'm positive that the next round of Surface devices will improve and bring them closer in function and performance. Both are solid units, well built, and thoroughly designed. I still maintain that the Surface RT is a better tablet. You can read about that HERE.
I may have missed some important factors for the Surface Pro v2 to be successful. Feel free to include your own ideas in the comments, or hit me up on Twitter: @rodtrent