Microsoft blamed for weak Tablet sales


— 5:08 AM on November 10, 2003

A year after Microsoft launched its Tablet PC operating system, the platform continues to struggle. Tablets aren't selling well at all, and manufacturers are blaming Microsoft for not working with vendors to market the platform. Redmond is also under fire for the price of its Tablet PC operating system, which manufacturers say is too high.

Microsoft is certainly a convenient target, but I think there's more to the Tablet PC's poor sales than the price of the operating system. Price is certainly an issue overall; the cheapest Tablet PCs retail for around $1700 and are stuck with a Transmeta Crusoe processor at 1GHz, 256MB of RAM, and no Wi-Fi. For roughly the same price, potential Tablet buyers can hook up with 12" Centrino notebooks from Dell or even PowerBooks from Apple. Of course, those notebooks don't support pen-based input like a Tablet PC, which raises the question of whether people need pen-based input at all.

I can certainly think of a lot of applications that suit pen-based computing, but I can't imagine that many consumers are willing to sacrifice performance or live with less powerful hardware just to get their hands on a stylus. Microsoft can only do so much to drop the price of Tablet PCs, which may be more victims of the widespread availability of powerful and inexpensive laptops than anything else.

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