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Other manufacturers were informed by Microsoft

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) shook the market when it announced "Surface", an eye-catching Windows 8 10.6-inch tablet design, which marked its intriguing decision to directly challenge its third party OEM partners.  With many already saying the Microsoft tablet could become a market darling and vie with the iPad for dominance, the big question was whether the move would also backfire by alienating OEMs and diminishing the third-party Windows 8 tablet market.

I. Some Manufacturers Knew About Surface Beforehand

Initial reports conflicted on whether OEMs knew about "Surface" beforehand. ASUSTek Computer Inc. (TPE:2357) spokesman Nick Wu stated to Bloomberg, "Our management did learn about that in a later stage.  It’s an investment by Microsoft to grow and build the ecosystem for Windows RT and we have no special opinion on that. We will continue to deliver our products."

Sources indicate that high-level management and others like Hewlett-Packard Comp. (HPQ) and Lenovo Group Ltd. (HKG:0992) also indicate that high-level management became aware of the device near launch time, although spokespeople for both companies refused to comment.

Microsoft's "Surface" tablet was a surprise to Acer, but others like ASUSTek were informed beforehand. [Image Source: Microsoft]

HP, the world's top personal computer maker, told Reuters in a statement, "We remain committed partners to Microsoft. We remain committed to Windows 8, and we will have a Slate product at the time of launch."

Similarly, Lenovo, the fastest growing PC maker on the market, commented, "Microsoft has been and will continue to be one of Lenovo's most valued partners."

Dell, Inc. (DELL) did not give any comment yet on the development.

II. Acer Appears to be Snubbed, Turns to Fantasy

But Microsoft appears not to have told one computer maker about "Surface" at all -- Acer, Inc. (TPE:2353).  An Acer executive is quoted by Reuters as saying, "No senior executives heard about the news last week.  We're quite surprised."

The strange apparent snub continued to get stranger when Acer founder Stan Shin spoke to DigiTimes, telling the publication that he thought Microsoft had no real intention to stick around in the tablet market long term.

He claimed that the "Surface" was just a publicity stunt/ruse to attract interest to Windows 8 and that the tablet would just be a one-off release, with no follow-up devices.

Stan Shih
Acer founder Stan Shih claims the Surface is only a publicity stunt and Microsoft will give up on future first-party designs. [Image Source: Zijing]

That seems like some rather peculiar wishful thinking.  First, Acer has made it relatively clear that it was one of the only -- or perhaps the only major manufacturer to be left in the dark about Microsoft's plans, so it seems kind of silly for the company's founder to now turn around and claim secret insight into Microsoft's market strategy.

Second, history simply does not support Microsoft's claims.  Once it saw success in markets like peripherals (mice, keyboards) and gaming consoles (the Xbox family) Microsoft didn't pull out, it stuck around.  It's hard to believe that Microsoft would drastically change its past strategy with the "Surface" and eventually pull the plug on what even Mr. Shih seemingly admits will be a hot seller.

This odd chain of events is the latest in a string of misfortune for Acer, which saw its PC market share plunge as the netbook market dried up.  Acer has expressed woes about its low profits and expressed an interest in being more like Apple, Inc. (AAPL).

Acer has made big promises in the tablet market, but thus far its Iconia line of Android tablets have shown little in the way of sales progress.  The best received Iconia -- the 10.1-inch A700 model is currently in 39th place in, Inc. (AMZN) list of top selling tablets, behind other sales "flops" like Research in Motion, Ltd.'s (TSE:RIMPlayBook.  The rest of the Iconias are even farther behind.

Sources: Digitimes, Reuters, Bloomberg

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By kattanna on 6/20/2012 2:53:16 PM , Rating: 5
i have their windows 7 tablet and it works great. though I can understand WHY its sales suck..because you cannot find it ANYWHERE.

when I got mine any store that had their tablets only had the a500, the android version. I had to take a leap of faith that it was as shown on their webpage and ordered it online via newegg. heck.. i couldnt even find reviews on the damn thing and it had been out for a couple months at least. so its not the hardware that has failed..but their marketing.

the icona tab w500 is a rock solid machine and works VERY well.

maybe if they marketed it, it would do better.

RE: w500
By kleinma on 6/20/2012 2:58:46 PM , Rating: 2
I have used that model with windows 8 dev preview and it worked quite well, even with the less than stellar hardware specs.

RE: w500
By Reclaimer77 on 6/20/12, Rating: -1
RE: w500
By scavio on 6/20/2012 7:00:35 PM , Rating: 2
Courier was never announced nor demoed by Microsoft... there were some leaks but that's it. Can you name something else they've said they would release and failed to do so?

RE: w500
By melgross on 6/21/12, Rating: 0
RE: w500
By scavio on 6/21/2012 10:29:47 AM , Rating: 3
Actually, that is not correct. The first use was internally by Microsoft, but it wasn't due to a non appearing product, it was a product that was still being sold but no longer developed. See . According to that same article, the "non appearing" products use didn't come into play until Ovation Technologies office suite never came out. Everything else I've read says the same thing.

RE: w500
By mcnabney on 6/21/2012 12:51:56 PM , Rating: 2
They more frequently 'diminish & extinguish' their own products that fall out of favor. Like WHS. They ripped drive extender out of it (because it was too hard to do in 64bit) and then jammed drive extender into Win8 where it is not nearly as logical a fit. And as far as vaporware - I don't know how many games have been developed for Xbox+PC that saw their PC release pushed back until the game wasn't even popular anymore.

RE: w500
By semiconshawn on 6/21/12, Rating: -1
“And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say?” -- Bill Gates on the Mac ads

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