Can Microsoft End Android Dominance With Low-Cost tablets?
While earlier reports suggested that Microsoft is wooing the emerging markets with low-cost Windows Phone smartphones by slashing the licensing fees to fight the more inexpensive Android handsets, a new report by TOI claims that the company is also planning on low-cost Windows tablets that could sell for as low as Rs 10,000. Needless to say, the objective is again to end Android dominance in the mobile device segment.
The tablets are expected to be made by Microsoft’s traditional PC partners like HP and Dell as well as by local Indian firms like Karbonn and Lava, as per the report. In India, the market is dominated by devices running on Google’s Android, mostly because these tablets are cheap, affordable and easy to find. In developed countries like the US, Microsoft competes with Android tablets with Surface devices, which the company believes are too expensive for markets like India.
”We are reducing our required hardware specification for Windows to bare minimum that is needed for good experience. We want to be price competitive with Android. We want to get the bill of material for Windows tablets down,” Amrish Goyal, director of Windows business group, told TOI.
Goyal confirmed that Microsoft will probably not sell a tablet for Rs 5,000, but one can expect tablets to have a price tag of around Rs 10,000 by mid-2014 in India.
Analysts believe that Microsoft is taking the same approach as it plans to compete with Android in the budget smartphone space. The cheaper smartphone market – dominated by Google’s Android OS – has lower licensing costs, is more adaptable by device makers, and runs on more, and cheaper, chip sets. Microsoft has allegedly slashed the licensing fees and joined hands with local players like Karbonn and Xolo to capture this pie.
According to Gartner, Microsoft sold 4 million tablets worldwide in 2013. This gave the company a market share of 2.1%. In comparison, Apple sold 70 million tablets and Google’s Android powered 121 million tablets. Gartner analyst Vishal Tripathi stated in the report that the Windows brand still resonates with people. “If Microsoft can deliver on its promise, it will definitely benefit,” he said.
According to Tripathi, if people have an option to get a Windows tablet at price that is similar to an Android tablet, they will likely pick it. “A low-cost Windows tablet is not going to shake the market but it will help Microsoft gain some consumers who will otherwise go to Android,” he said.
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