Windows RT License Fees Could Keep it Off Budget Tablets
It’s widely rumored that Microsoft is launching a tablet tomorrow, with some bloggers going so far as to say it will upset the tablet market. But if the early reports coming out of Taiwan are true then I just don’t see how it could happen.
Theo Valich reports on VR-Zone.com that Taiwanese tablet makers are already suffering sticker shock. Theo claims to have spoken to several manufacturers, and they all report similar tales. Microsoft wants between $80 and $90 for a Windows RT license. That’s right in with the price you’d expect to pay to install Windows on a PC, but it’s not at all what these manufacturers are used to paying to load Android.
Okay, Android is open source so it’s not a fair comparison, but even with the development costs Android is still a much cheaper option. It’s so cheap that I have multiple sub-$100 Android tablets on my desk, something that’s just not going to be possible to do with Windows RT. And that means there’s likely going to be a huge market segment where you won’t find Windows.
Do you remember how Microsoft wanted t0 have Windows running on an ereader? Yeah, that’s out of the question now. Not very many people will pay an extra $90 to get a Windows based ereader, and I think it’s even less likely that manufacturers will even try to develop one. Hell, you can get a Kindle for less than the cost of a Windows RT license, and that even includes the expensive E-ink screen.
So it looks like Windows will only be showing up on the premium tablets, but even there it’s going to be at a disadvantage. VR-Zone is reporting that the launch tablets will probably go for $549-799, with premium models selling for $799 and $899. That’s great news for Android tablet makers, but it’s not good news for the Windows tablet. Thanks to the iPad, there isn’t much of a market anymore for a $600 tablet. That was a market which the iPad killed off, just like it sucked the life out of the $500 ereaders and the tablet/laptop hybrids.
Sure, there will be a lot of business buyers picking up WinRT tablets because it can run full Windows apps, but a lot of those buyers used to buy Windows tablets and now buy iPads. As a business tool it is one heck of a tablet. It makes an excellent compliment to a Windows laptop, and that right there is Microsoft’s major weakness.
I’m betting that the Windows RT tablet will siphon off more of the laptop market than it will the tablet market. Yes, there’s a lot of money in the business market, but there’s so much money that those folks can afford to buy both a laptop and an iPad. What’s more, it seems to me if they switch over to a Windows RT tablet the laptop will go out the window along with the iPad.
This looks like it could be a zero sum game for Microsoft, or am I wrong?