Microsoft is planning to stop manufacturing the Surface 3 and naturally the rumors have been started about the possibility of the launch of Surface 4. Thought, Microsoft has declined any indication of the release of Surface 4, but many market experts and analysts believe that after experiencing a strong demand for the Surface tablet PC, releasing a successor seems like a no-brainer.
It is not that easy as it seems at a first glance, the PC market is facing various challenges. It generally takes the period of five to six years for upgrades. Tablets shipments are also declining. PC makers are already releasing a variety of innovative products that could be viable options to a Surface 3 successor.
The Surface 3 is available for $499 and the tablet is targeted at customers. The company is also dealing in the iconic Surface Pro 4, which is loaded with flashier features and starts $849. An argument could be made for and against the release of a successor to the Surface 3, said Bob O’Donnell, principal analyst at Tirias Research.
Microsoft has invested a lot in marketing as well as branding Surface products. Among all the arguments and rumors concerning the new product, the company can consider the option of continuing with an entry level Surface tablet, particularly for those who cannot afford a Surface Pro. O’Donnell adds, “The Surface has strong name recognition, and there’s interest in upgrading budget PCs to 2-in-1 devices. A Surface 4 could serve that role. At the same time, PC makers are already offering similar products, so Microsoft may not need to make a Surface 4.”
In the opinion of Roger Kay, principal analyst at Endpoint Technologies Associates, it’s a good idea to scrap a budget version of Surface, and focus on higher-end products to motivate PC makers again.
Surface started off as a proof-of-concept to stimulate innovation among PC makers. The Surface Pro serves that purpose, but not the entry-level Surface. Microsoft should instead focus on innovation in the Surface Pro now that iPad Pro is emerging as a competitor.
The Surface products still upset PC makers, who feel Microsoft shouldn’t compete with its own customers, Kay said. “I have talked to a lot of OEMs, and they roll their eyes when they hear Surface. But if Surface 4 will make Microsoft heaps of money, that’s a different story, Kay said.
Now the question arises about the type of hardware that would be used in Surface 4. The hardware of Surface 3 was actually Cherry Trail an Intel’s Atom chip which is going to be succeeded by Apollo Lake, a Pentium and Celeron chip. The chips were mainly designed and developed for 2-in-1 PCs, but will also appear in tablets. In the opinion of some market analysts, there is lesser possibility that buyers will have any special interest in buying a Surface tablet with a Celeron or Pentium chip, which has been used in budgeted laptops for a long time.
“In the long run, Microsoft has to figure out what to do with the entire Surface lineup. The Xbox is the soup-to-nuts money maker, the HoloLens is the game changer, but there are questions about the motivation behind Surface devices”, Kay said.