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Unable to compete, OEM bemoans Microsoft decision to step up

Like King Theoden of The Lord of the Rings, Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), old and gray, watched as Apple, Inc.’s (AAPL) tablets, which were increasingly cannibalizing users' screen time, imperiled its kingdom.  Like the king, Microsoft's advisors whispered false promises of security.  Any day now a successful Windows tablet would come out...

Except it didn't.  So Microsoft, at last awoken, took up the sword unveiling the Surface -- a slick Windows 8 tablet that shocked the tech world.

Now its finding that some of its former allies have taken its awakening quite badly.  Among those is Acer, Inc. (TPE:2353).

Acer played the role of Wormtongue to Microsoft's Theoden, ever lofting big promises in the tablet space, and ever falling behind Apple misstep by misstep.  Now the company hisses at its former ally for taking matters into its own hands.

Comments JT Wang, chairman and chief executive of Acer, in an interview with The Financial Times, "We have said [to Microsoft] think it over.  Think twice. It will create a huge negative impact for the ecosystem and other brands may take a negative reaction. It is not something you are good at so please think twice."

Campbell Kan, Acer’s president for personal computer global operations, adds a not-so-subtle threat, suggesting, "If Microsoft … is going to do hardware business, what should we do? Should we still rely on Microsoft, or should we find other alternatives?"

Microsoft in regulatory filings has acknowledged that its OEMs may be hurt by Surface.  But the key thing to note is that the whole reason that Microsoft entered this face was because its partners failed, miserably, to compete against Apple.

Acer's sour grapes are perhaps a testament to the overall weakness of its tablet line.  J.T. Wang in Dec. 2011 called his company's product's "cheap" and "unprofitable".  Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930) and others have outsold Acer in the emerging Android tablet market.

Even if Microsoft's Surface proves successful, volumes will likely remain relatively low, by Microsoft's own accounting.  Thus companies like Samsung who have promising Windows 8 tablet products should be fine.  

For companies like Acer, who lack viable tablet product of any flavor, there will likely be much bellyaching.  But at the end of the day they forced Microsoft to make this decision in the first place, and if they focused on creating viable products rather than making hollow threats, then they would have far less to worry about.

Source: Financial Times

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The error in the analogy
By Shadowself on 8/7/2012 2:29:41 PM , Rating: 2
is that in the LOTR Theoden was poisoned by Saruman's magic.

In this case (if Theoden is to be taken as Microsoft) Theoden has poisoned himself and everyone else too. (Microsoft's previous attempts at a true tablet OS [a true ring of power if we continue with the analogy] has been so bad as to be poisonous to the entire ecosystem, not just Microsoft.)

If Theoden/Microsoft has finally come up with a pure magic (Windows 8) then it has little if anything to do with the sword in hand (Surface) or the courtiers (Acer, etc.). In fact the sword may be more frightening to comrades than to enemies. It is a two edged sword after all.

(The analogy really breaks down here since Theoden never was a magic user.)

Why Microsoft has now decided with Windows 8 in hand to abandon it's prior model (Just ship the OS and let partners ship the hardware) that's been good for three decades and is still considered good enough for Google (with Android, though the Google/Motorola team seems to belie this a bit) and go with a modified Apple model mystifies me.

Even with Apple's supposed surge in the world of today, it has not come close to Microsoft's dominance in the OS and office bundle worlds (supposedly > 95% and > 85% respectively at their peaks). People talk about Apple's dominance in the music player or smart phone or tablet worlds, but it is nothing like the dominance Microsoft used to have -- and in some arenas still has. If Windows 8 really is the new (or resurgence of old) magic then gathering an army around it powered by the new magic is the way to go not openly fostering desertion from the ranks.

Google's magic seems to be working just fine for them by getting legions to join the Google army.

RE: The error in the analogy
By semiconshawn on 8/7/2012 4:40:00 PM , Rating: 2
Hahahaha a comment longer than the article explaining why the LOTR analogy is bad. I love this place. Tech mixed with a smidgen of dork.

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