The world has become a very difficult place for pure PC hardware manufacturers, such as Dell, Acer and even HP.
This is because, increasingly, customers are gravitating towards ecosystems and brands, versus solo hardware appliances.
What do I mean by this? Years ago, Apple was primarily a PC vendor, although a great major decision they made has arguably launched them to become the most valuable company in America – controlling their OS.
Hardware vendors – OEMS in general, thrived. We saw the rise of Dell, HP, IBM and many others.
Problem was, this was a low margin business, unless you were Apple. Second, these vendors became commodity merchants. Most importantly, interchangeable commodities.
This was great for the consumer, but not so great for the hardware vendors.
Today, the problems have deepened as the great companies no longer offer just hardware or even hardware plus the OS.
It is now all about ecosystems and experiences. So you go with the MacBook, iPad, iTunes and iPhone because you want the Apple experience. You become enmeshed in the world of Apple.
Likewise, others choose Gmail, the Nexus or other Android smartphone, adsense, adwords, Google search, Google+, the Chrome browser and perhaps eventually Chromebooks, to get all the mutually interlocking benefits from the Google universe.
Facebook also has their own growing world, jumping into mobile apps, Facebook Connect, Facebook social tools and so on, all revolving around the 1 billion-strong Facebook.
Of course, strategically Microsoft had no option but to extend their own ecosystem and ‘experience’. Why? Because if users are not having your ‘experience’, they’ll certainly be having someone else’s. Perhaps, Facebook’s, Google’s, or Apple’s.
So Bing, Metro, Surface, Windows 8, and use of it on slates and smartphones is a logical, even survival-type strategy for Microsoft to embark upon. It is the only way forward. Hopefully, they will not be too late in creating their own competitive ecosystem.