Running to Stay in Place: Where’s the Surface Mini?

There are some cultures where it is de rigeur to be fashionably late.  Call a party at 7.00pm and the fashionistas arrive at 10.00pm.  Schedule a meeting at noon and the other party shows  up at 2.00pm, muttering excuses and how things are “gonna be great.”  Will it, though?

That’s the question I asked myself this morning about the 7-inch Surface.  Where on earth is it?  In fact, where is any 7-inch Windows RT tablet?  Why am I so obstreperous this morning?  Well, I think I needed another couple hours of sleep for one.

However,it was this article in ZDNET about how a doctor felt the iPad mini was just the right size to fit into the pocket of the doctor’s white coat that got me going this morning.  By the way, ditto for lab technicians.  Ditto for warehouse workers.  Ditto for just any old pocket of any office worker actually.  And on and on…

Sales of the iPad Mini, Nexus 7 and Amazon’s HD Fire have been electric this holiday period.  It seems to be the next market segment to catch fire.  Unfortunately, Microsoft is just getting started in the “old” segment – the 10.1 inch form factor.  And yes, they’ll “really” get started only in the new year with the Surface Pro.

There have got to be people in Redmond paid to look ahead, examine trends, and determine future offerings.  The first batch of folks should realistically have been fired for being almost 3 years late to the smartphone and tablet party.  If they were thinking about the enterprise market, surely the 7-inch tablet format has wide applicability.

It is almost as if the 10.1 inch format is fighting last year’s battle.

Microsoft seems to have misunderstood or been blindsided by developments in the mini tablet market, hence the lack of product today.  Yes, I know there are rumors, but no product yet.

IDC upgraded its forecast of tablet sales by 5 million in 2012 due to the release of the iPad Mini and its scorching sales.  Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu, also noted in early December that demand for the 7.9-inch iPad mini was stronger than Apple anticipated, leading to lead times of 2 weeks for the tablet during the run up to the holidays.  In short, they are literally flying off shelves.

The question in Redmond must be: when the Surface Mini finally appears (plus OEM offerings), will the market again have settled into a dupoly – Android and iOS?

Let me know what you think in the discussion below.

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