Remember that rumor about the Surface maybe, possibly launching at $199 later this year? Yeah; not gonna happen. In an interview with the Seattle Times this weekend, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer offered some fresh insight into his company's pricing strategy. And from the sound of it, the Surface isn't going to have a bargain-basement price tag.
The Times coaxed an answer out of Ballmer by asking whether the Surface was going to compete with the iPad "on price or on features." Ballmer responded with the following:
A: We haven't announced pricing. I think we have a very competitive product from the features perspective. ...
I think most people would tell you that the iPad is not a superexpensive device. ... (When) people offer cheaper, they do less. They look less good, they're chintzier, they're cheaper.
If you say to somebody, would you use one of the 7-inch tablets, would somebody ever use a Kindle (Kindle Fire, $199) to do their homework? The answer is no; you never would. It's just not a good enough product. It doesn't mean you might not read a book on it....
If you look at the bulk of the PC market, it would run between, say, probably $300 to about $700 or $800. That's the sweet spot.
I guess that pretty much settles it. No $200 Surface.
Ballmer's $300-800 ballpark might seem a little broad, but keep in mind there will be two versions of the Surface. The ARM-based variant, which will run Windows RT, is supposed to be priced competitively with similar ARM devices. Microsoft said so back in June. The x86 version of the Surface, meanwhile, will be priced in ultrabook territory—hence the $800 ceiling mentioned by Ballmer.
We'll find out exact pricing soon enough. The Windows RT version of the Surface is due out on October 26, with the x86 model to follow about 90 days later. (Thanks to Neowin for the link.)