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Leading up to their June 18th conference, Microsoft described the event as major, promising to unveil a new technology. Microsoft kept mum on the product details until the conference, when Microsoft announced its new tablet, Surface 2. This announcement came just months after Microsoft invested $300 million dollars in Nook tablets from Barnes & Noble. It appears that Microsoft wants to be a prominent player in the tablet market, and they are willing to buy their way into the discussion. How does Microsoft plan on carving their way into the market? Why is Microsoft investing so much money in tablets when they already have the lion’s share of the PC market?
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While Microsoft may be willing to invest big dollars in the current market, they also understand that they must innovate tablets to find their niche in the market. With Surface 2, Microsoft is introducing a new technology called PixelSense. On old tablets, screens used underlying cameras to read touches on the screen. Microsoft’s PixelSense makes each pixel into a camera, and the screen can read not only touches, but also objects. These tablet eyes open up new possibilities for the tablet, adding intrigue to Microsoft’s competition for the iPad. Microsoft’s new tablet technology is sure to get them a slice of an important emerging market.
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Microsoft’s eagerness to control part of the tablet market makes sense, considering the increasing importance of mobile and tablets in the marketplace. According to a recent study by NPD, tablet sales will overtake notebook sales by 2016. Microsoft recognizes that the competition for market share is not predicated on desktop or notebook sales anymore, but rather on tablet sales and mobile ability.
In our experience on the Farm, the iPad rules the tablet world. When clients ask for a tablet app, the iPad is the main platform. While PixelSense is a fascinating, potentially revolutionary technology, Surface will still need to overcome the barrier of app developers. Developers are loyal to Apple, and any potential challenger to the iPad will have to earn developers’ ears to grab a significant share of the tablet market from Apple. Time will tell if Microsoft’s product can make a dent in iPad’s sales.

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