Microsoft Limiting ARM Chip Maker’s Partnerships?

On more than one occasion I’ve talked about what I feel Microsoft needs to do to build itself a successful place in the tablet market. Since I’ve hit on this more than once, I’ll just highlight some of my bigger points.

Right now Apple dominates the higher-end of the tablet market and Kindle Fire (and to lesser extent Nook Tablet) dominate the lower end.

I’ve asserted that Microsoft needs to reign in tighter control over its vendors with its tablet move and create more mid-range tablets that are a mix of content creation (like iPad) and content consumption (like Kindle Fire).

This means creating mid-range tablets that target $250-$500 price points and provide a little bit of everything.

A good way to do this is to pick one partner, like Nokia, and develop a flagship tablet device that shows off what exactly W8 is capable of bringing to the table. This is a similar approach to how Google does things with its Nexus line.

Part of Apple’s success has always been its ability to tightly control its operating system and hardware. Microsoft has support for literally millions of peripherals, motherboards, and other types of hardware out there and so having Apple-like tight control seems rather impossible.

Still, the tablet market is just launching and Microsoft has a chance to somewhat emulate tactics that have worked for Apple in both the tablet, PC, and MP3 market.

Now reports are coming in that Microsoft is doing just that, by limiting ARM processor companies on which vendors they can work with. Allegedly, this means that each ARM company (Nvidia, Qualcomm, and Texas Instruments) will get to choose one major partner and one minor partner for development of their Windows 8 devices.

The unnamed source that leaked the information also says Qualcomm selected Samsung and Sony, TI selected Toshiba and Samsung, and TI selected Toshiba and Samsung, while Nvidia chose Lenovo and Acer. The bigger partners involved are Samsung, Toshiba, and Lenovo.

Notably, Asus was left completely out of this list indicating they might instead be focusing on the x86 tablet market. The source didn’t mention anything about the x86 vendors and so apparently this restriction won’t apply to them.

Although we have no idea whether the claims by this source are valid or not, it certainly is an interesting concept. If Microsoft is controlling the vendors in such a way, we have to wonder why. My two cents is that controlling the vendors will allow Microsoft to better work individually with vendors to make sure they approve of the hardware involved in tablets.

Also by having only a few partners involved it will be easier to keep the market from being flooded by tablets, perhaps.

A few solid options is a great idea, but too many options could make it harder for consumers to tell which tablet model is best. For now we best take the rumor with a grain of salt, but it doesn’t sound unreasonable if you ask me.

Apple has done well by controlling its market and limiting choices for its consumers, so Microsoft choosing to follow their model doesn’t seem unreasonable.

Again, keep in mind this still means there will be 5 different vendors working on ARM tablets (because Samsung is working with two different cheap companies) and each will have multiple models so there is still plenty of choice involved.

Still, limiting how many companies work with chip makers could keep the market from totally flooding with tablet options.

What do you think about this news, is this a good idea for Microsoft to pursue? Can Microsoft successfully control its vendors and chip-makers like Apple has done? Share your thoughts below!

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