Microsoft’s Craig Mundie, global chief research and strategy officer, isn’t sure whether Apple’s iPad is here to stay or not.
“I don’t know whether the big screen tablet pad category is going to remain with us or not,” said Mundie in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald. Mundie believes the smartphone “as it emerges more will become your most personal computer”, while laptops would become a “portable desk”.
“Mobile is something that you want to use while you’re moving, and portable is something that you move and then use. These are going to bump into one another a little bit and so today you can see tablets and pads and other things that are starting to live in the space in between. Personally I don’t know whether that space will be a persistent one or not.”
Mundie’s comments come at a time when Apple’s iPad device is selling extremely well in the market. Microsoft has started its own advertising blitz featuring the Asus Eee Slate. Steve Ballmer recently showed his own personal Eee Slate device during a speech at Microsoft’s Imagine 2011 conference earlier this week.
Microsoft’s advertizing blitz follows the introduction of Apple’s newest iPad. Apple’s latest iPad 2 features a dual-core CPU, 9x faster graphics and is slimmer and lighter than the previous generation. The company has also included front and rear cameras for use with FaceTime. Microsoft’s hardware partners have slowly been producing iPad rivals. Samsung unveiled its Sliding PC 7 series Windows 7 Slate hybrid at CES earlier this year. The device features Intel’s 1.66GHz Z670 Oak Trail processor, 10.1″ touchscreen, 32GB SSD and 2GB of RAM. The tablet ways just 2.1 pounds and will retail in March for $699. The iPad currently retails at $499 and sold three million units in its first 80 days of release. The iPad is currently selling approximately 4.5 million units per quarter, Bernstein Research estimates.
Microsoft Chairman, Bill Gates, said earlier last year that the company has a lot of different tablet projects it is pursuing. Microsoft canceled their internal Courier project shortly after the release of the iPad. The project was an innovative new tablet concept that had promised to combine a dual screen book design with finger and stylus input. The leaked promotional materials demonstrated various concepts that would have brought an unparalleled productivity tool to the market. Most media outlets and analysts felt the move to cancel the device was a mistake.
Dell also unveiled a hybrid “touch and type” Windows 7 Slate device in late November. The device currently retails at at $549 in U.S. stores. Microsoft rarely acknowledges the iPad or its sales influence. Windows general product manager Gavriella Schuster previously admitted that netbooks running Windows are “definitely getting cannibalised” by the iPad.
Microsoft is waiting for Windows 8 until it unveils its full Slate strategy. However, the company may introduce Windows 8 ARM based tablets ahead of a full desktop release. Microsoft’s competitive tablet strategy is believed to be further along than expected. Dell’s recently leaked Tablet Roadmap revealed that the OEM has marked Q1 2012 as its date for a Windows 8 based slate. WinRumors understands that Microsoft has been working on an ARM based version of Windows for nearly a year and that it is laboring hard to bring this to the market as soon as possible.