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看好微软Surface平板电脑的3大理由

看好微软Surface平板电脑的3大理由

Don Sears 2012年06月26日
很多人都不认为微软的平板电脑能获得成功。但是,我们有足够的理由相信这款平板电脑绝不是儿戏,微软拓展新领域的努力值得予以充分的重视。

    微软公司(Microsoft)推出了平板电脑Surface,此举绝不可低估。微软首次设计并生产自己的硬件,这是十分大胆的一着,意味着微软打算开发一个生机勃勃的新产品生态系统。它将围绕微软的当家资产——操作系统开始谋篇布局。本周一,Surface闪亮登场。在发布仪式上,明亮的粉蓝色键盘,时尚的宣传视频和一些本来籍籍无名的工程师的卖力推销,让人觉得这很像是一场苹果公司(Apple)的产品发布会。

    但实际上,微软的这出大戏与苹果毫无关系。微软显然是想将平板电脑融入混合型的PC-移动设备阵营。在它位于加州的竞争对手看来,此举实属下策。迄今为止,我们对Surface的所有细节还不得而知——比如,电池续航时间、定价、官方发布日期等还都悬而未决。但是,有三大原因让我们确信,Surface上市之日,绝不是引颈就死之时。

理由1:微软完全有能力打造一个生态系统

    在消费者市场,微软凭借Xbox和近期推出的体感(Kinect)动作控制游戏设备早已大获成功。作为娱乐设备,Xbox实现了一次重大的品牌延伸,其大名已是家喻户晓。微软既然已成功颠覆了游戏市场,当然也能让硬件市场来个天翻地覆。

    微软拥有最顶尖的技术人才。科技网站Verge的主编乔希•托普罗斯基早就不算是技术的超级粉丝了,但他2011年拜访过微软的研发部门后,还是为自己所看到的景象深感震惊。

    关于这次造访,他回顾说:“(微软)向我展示了一个项目……借助各种显示技术、动作感知技术和3D技术,它能让用户创建从一个房间到另一个房间的一扇虚拟窗户。它名为‘魔墙’。这真是匪夷所思、精妙绝伦、雄心勃勃。观看这个项目时,从头至尾我所能想到的只有一个疑问:微软把这些技术天才都藏到哪儿去了?”

    微软当然也有大量失败的产品案例,从Zune MP3播放器到差劲的Kin手机,不一而足。但是,不容辩驳的是,微软已证明它能打造一个充满活力、有利可图的生态系统。

理由2:微软将充分利用企业用户和开发者这两大自留地

    微软确实是在模仿苹果的平板电脑,但它不会模仿一台仅能供普通消费者所用的设备推向市场。它手头握有590亿美元现金,坐拥12.5亿台装有Windows操作系统的PC机。而完全可以肯定的是,可爱的鲍尔默先生会挖掘所有可能的Windows销售渠道,找遍所有能调用的硬件分销商,想尽一切办法大举推广这款产品。市场研究公司IDC Research的分析师弗朗西斯科•杰若尼莫在6月份发布的一份报告中写道:“物理键盘,没有摄像头,专注于微软Office环境,这些都表明微软聚焦于商用市场。在这个细分市场上它能脱颖而出,从苹果手中抢得一些份额。微软的这台平板电脑可能能为用户带来最好的Office应用体验,这也是这台设备最具杀伤力的应用。而对专业应用来说,键盘也是非常重要的附件。”

    Do not underestimate Microsoft's Surface tablet move. Its gambit to design and build its own hardware is a bold play to develop a thriving ecosystem of new products. It is centered on Microsoft's dominant property: the operating system. Monday's flashy Surface launch may have felt like an Apple event with its bright, pastel-colored keyboard, slick introductory videos and breathless hyping from little-known engineers. But, in fact, Microsoft's play is anything but Apple-like. The company is clearly trying to make tablets into hybrid PC-mobile devices, something its California rival has said is a bad idea. We don't yet know all of Surface's details -- battery life, pricing, official release dates are all to-be-determined for instance. But here are three important reasons Microsoft's Surface is likely to be anything but dead on arrival:

Reason #1: Microsoft can build an ecosystem

    Microsoft (MSFT) has had success in the consumer market with the Xbox and most recently with the Kinect motion-control devices. The Xbox has become a household name with major brand extensions as an entertainment device. Microsoft disrupted gaming, and it can disrupt hardware.

    Microsoft has serious engineering chops. Josh Topolosky, Editor-in-Chief of The Verge and not exactly a fanboy, was blown away by a visit to Microsoft's R&D in 2011. He wrote of that visit: "[MS] showed me a project … which would allow you to create a virtual window from one room to another, utilizing a variety of display, motion sensing, and 3D technologies… dubbed … the 'magic wall.' It was nuts. It was awesome. It was ambitious. The whole time, all I could think was: where has Microsoft been hiding guys like this?"

    There are plenty of examples of failed elements, from the Zune MP3 player to the dismal Kin phone. But, overwhelmingly, Microsoft has proven it can create a vibrant and profitable ecosystem.

Reason #2: Microsoft will use its enterprise and developer bases

    Microsoft certainly copied Apple's (APPL) playbook, but it won't be copying a consumer-only model for adoption. With $59 billion in cash on hand and an install base of 1.25 billion Windows PCs you can bet your sweet Ballmer that every possible Windows channel and hardware reseller rock they can uncover will be leveraged for adoption. "The physical keyboard, the lack of a camera and the focus on the MS Office environment shows that Microsoft is targeting the business segment, where it can differentiate and take some share from Apple," wrote Francisco Jeronimo, of IDC Research in a June 19 note. "Microsoft's tablet will probably come with the best MS Office experience, the killer application of the device. The keyboard is also a very important accessory for professional usage." 

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