Seeking Alpha
Profile| Send Message|
( followers)

Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) stock performance in 2013 will likely depend on strong sales of Windows surface tablets, both the RT and Pro versions. The RT version was released last October, and had lower than expected sales in the fourth quarter; Microsoft only shipped about 900,000 of them. Apple, on the other hand, shipped around 22 million iPads in the same quarter. On February 9th, Microsoft released the Surface for Windows 8 Pro, a chance to redeem its Surface tablet line and pick up sales. Unfortunately, Microsoft may be making a big strategic mistake by overpricing the tablet.

The Windows surface tablets, which I praised in a previous article, had the potential to compete in the tablet market against Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad, with its unique work/enterprise usability due to its built-in keyboard and Microsoft Office support. However, Microsoft's price point on both tablets, with the RT version starting at $499 and the Windows 8 Pro Version starting at $899 are uncompetitive price points for targeting the mass market. In fact, the latest tablet prices have been moving in the opposite direction, with the Apple's iPad Mini starting at $329 and Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Nexus 7 at $249. To make matters worse, Microsoft did not include the touch/type cover in the base price of either tablet, a fundamental aspect of the Surface tablet's competitive advantage over other tablets on the market. The free version of Microsoft Office included with the Surface for Windows RT isn't included in the Pro version either. So when all is said and done, a fully equipped Surface Pro can go for over $1,100.

 

Surface for Windows RT

Surface for Windows 8 Pro

iPad (3rd Generation)

Processor

NVIDIA Tegra-based ARM

Intel Core i5 (Ivy Bridge)

Apple A5X

Weight

676 grams

903 grams

650 grams

Thickness

9.3 millimeters

13.5 millimeters

9.4 mm

Display

10.6-inch ClearType HD (1366 x 768)

10.6-inch ClearType Full HD (1920x1080)

9.7-inch Retina Display (2048×1536)

Software

Windows RT and Office Home & Student 2013 RT

Windows 8 Pro

iOS 5

Connectivity

2×2 MIMO Wi-Fi

2×2 MIMO Wi-Fi

4G LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth

Capacity

32GB or 64GB

64GB or 128GB

16, 32, or 64GB

Accessories

Touch Cover, Type Cover, VaporMg Case & Stand

Touch Cover, Type Cover, VaporMg Case & Stand, Pen with Palm Block

N/A

Ports

microSD, USB 2.0, Micro HD Video

microSDXC, USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort

N/A

Price

From $499

From $899

From $499

Source: Engadget.com, Apple.com

At these price points, Microsoft is pricing itself out of the tablet market. Only die-hard Microsoft enthusiasts would be willing to purchase the Surface Pro at around double the price of tablets already on the market. The majority of customers looking in that price range would rather purchase a more fully equipped Ultrabook or Macbook. Therefore, instead of gaining ground in the tablet market, Microsoft may end up cannibalizing its own laptop market by taking away market share from its OEM laptop manufacturers that support Windows 8 OS.

Bottom-Line

Microsoft's Surface for Windows RT/Pro tablets had the potential to be a game changer in the tablet arena with its superior work/enterprise usability. However, Microsoft made a big strategic error by overpricing the tablets, especially the recently released Surface Pro. Therefore, conservative investors may want to stay away from Microsoft's stock for the time being. On the flip side, if pricing is the only problem, highly risk tolerant investors who believe that Microsoft will be able to reduce the price of the current Surface tablets or potential future generations of the product may decide to buy and hold the stock for the long-term.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Source: Can Microsoft Fix Its Strategic Mistake With The Surface Pro?