5 Challenges For Microsoft's Surface Tablet

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Now revealed, Microsoft's distribution plan even mirrors Apple's, which forsakes traditional OEM partners and channel resellers for its own stores and online outlets. While it's usually not a good idea for a manufacturer to compete with its own customers, Microsoft's track record at marketing self-branded products (not counting mice, keyboards and such) is exactly 50/50 (Zune and Xbox).

So while most channel resellers could share at least one "I was outbid by the vendor" story, a move by Microsoft to sell tablets would set it against major OEM customers like Lenovo and Samsung. This could spell disaster for a young operating system so dependent on volume buyers to market their own hardware and build a critical mass of users for which to build apps, not to mention having to build an ecosystem of programmers to develop them. In such a scenario, Microsoft's inherent advantages would include access to an operating system that was essentially free and the ability to design the hardware to match (as does Apple). We see this as a severe disincentive for OEMs.

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