10 factors that will determine the success of Windows 8 Tablets

I’ve had a chance to sit back and think about some of the key factors that will determine the relative success of Windows 8 Tablets when they are released over the next couple of years.

I say relative because this is Microsoft and they will sell units either way – the question is just how many.

I put out feelers to my audience to get their feedback about Windows 8 and I’m getting the feedback now in real time, both the good and the bad.

Based partly on that, here are the 10 factors that I believe will determine the success of Windows 8 Tablets.

Hype

Yeah, good old fashioned fanboys and hype. Apple has had them for a while and let me tell you it matters. It helps to have a bunch of enthusiasts who are excited about your platform and will step up and counter the criticism when it (inevitably) comes.

There need to be a lot of developers, bloggers and consumers who are ready to tell a good story about Windows 8 Tablets right off the bat. As the underdog to the iPad, Microsoft can not afford to be labeled uncool right off the bat. They need to rally the troops hard on this one.

That usually requires..

Quality

In order to attract fans, they need need to be able to adore something.

The Windows 8 Tablets that come out have to be perceived as high quality devices. They need to be designed well and look aesthetically pleasing. No tacky plastic parts or loud fans or uneven surfaces. They need to be serious, credible competitors.

Keep It Simple

Sometimes it’s easy to forget the massive reach of these Windows 8 Previews. The Windows 8 Developer Preview, Windows 8 Consumer Preview and finally the Windows 8 Release Preview will have attracted millions of users. These users have given hundreds of thousands of comments and emails and opinions about Windows 8 and there is a common thread – It’s too complicated.

Microsoft need to simplify the UI and OS to take that criticism off the table. In 2012, apps and hardware need to be simple. They need to be easy to use and grow attached to. Less is more.

Thinner and lighter is better

One of the new laws of tablets we can extrapolate from Apple is that thinner and lighter is better. It’s more appealing to the consumer. Is it harder to design? – Yes. Does it cost more? Yes. Does it take more time to get right? -Yes. It doesn’t matter. Nobody wants a heavy bulky tablet.

If we wanted bulky and heavy, we would carry around 17 inch non-Ultrabook laptops. There’s a reason why those are fading away.

Applications Matter

Match the Apple Store app for app as much as humanly possible. There needs to be a mad dash to fill up the store with Consumer and Business apps. No apps, no success – thank you for playing.

Price may not matter

I’m the first to admit that I struggle with this one. My cousin and I go back and forth about pricing for Windows 8 and I realized why I was so adamant about Microsoft keeping the price low.

It’s because psychologically, I assumed Windows 8 Tablets would be inferior to iPads.

Yeah I said it. Sue me.

I would love to eat that assumption. If Microsoft can execute the Tablet strategy perfectly, consumers will pay iPad prices and more. It’s a big IF but that’s the way it goes. Ultimately, consumers and companies just want their devices to work well and they love market based price competition.

Screen Resolution doesn’t matter

As an iPad 1,2 and 3 owner, I can tell you that Retina Display is cool but iPad 2 owners are really fine with their non retina display tablets. People who could afford to upgrade did and those who couldn’t (or just didn’t care) did not.

The truth is, Retina Display is just a great nice-to-have. It’s cool to have but you forget about it really quickly. More importantly, it’s not essential for successful use of the device. The iPad is successful because it does everything else well and that’s really all about the iOS Operating System.

Microsoft should focus on the Windows 8 OS and the hardware will be secondary. Not unimportant, just secondary.

Battery Life Matters

8 to 10 hours. No need to say more. Make it happen.

TV Marketing Matters

Microsoft traditionally make horrible TV ads. Yeah I said it and even worse – it’s true. They need to do something different and make better ads. Not quirky but direct and to the point.

I have a degree in marketing and have been a successful online marketer for almost a decade. It’s painful to see a lot of the spots that MSFT try and use to sell their products.

Apple ads have started to jump the shark in my opinion (Samuel Jackson and Zoey Deschanel) and Microsoft need to jump in and take advantage.

There need to be really clear, targeted ads directed at consumers and businesses extolling the virtues of Windows 8 Tablets.

And finally,

Most importantly,

…*sigh*

OEM’s will make or break Windows 8 Tablets

This is really simple. Microsoft need to set the bar really high for the caliber of device that will be ceritified as a Windows 8 Tablet.

No cutting corners. No trying to make a profit with cheap devices. No trying to flood the market with cheap knockoffs. Every Windows 8 Tablet needs to be a quality device and Microsoft need to absolutely deny certification to any devices that don’t meet the threshold.

Next, they need to take a second look at the Windows 8 Tablet Requirements and make sure the threshold for performance is high enough. OEM’s will make or break this launch because (perception of) a rotten apple spoils the bunch.

Consumers who see a cheap, low quality CERTIFIED Windows 8 device will tell their friends. They won’t blame the device maker, they will just say “Windows 8 sucks”.

It’s not fair, I don’t make the rules – just how it goes.

One Last Thing

A lot of this stuff is self-evident and Microsoft are probably working furiously to make this launch perfect. I’m looking forward to the improvements in the Windows 8 Release Preview.

A lot of us are hard on Microsoft because we want this to really happen. When Apple and Microsoft clash, the result is higher levels of value and innovation at lower prices.

If they fail, Apple will be free to charge $900 for tablets and we’ll have no credible choices and alternatives.

Stay tuned.

That’s my list, now it’s your turn.

What will make or break Windows 8 Tablets?

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