Oh my, oh dear, Intel has some beautiful specifications in mind for Windows 8 tablets. By now I’m sure that you have seen the information, but just in case, here’s what the company is looking for: tablets with 9+ hours of battery life, built-in 3G/4G, and 30 days standby time, all in a package that is sub-9 mm thick. Wow.
That’s so cool that we almost think that it is going to fail. Here’s why: with specs that good, we have to wonder if the tablets will be price competitive. Prices in the tablet market are trending down, just as their hardware components are improving.
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Amazon’s Kindle Fire device reshaped the slate landscape, driving the bargain floor to a mere $200. Apple’s newest iPad pushed the price of its second generation model to a mere $399. Consumers are becoming accustomed to their companion slates being $500 and less.
Now, what Intel has in mind is darn impressive. I would love a Windows 8 tablet that had those specifications. The kicker is the price point. I wrote a piece some time back that detailed what I want in a Windows 8 slate, noting that I’m willing to use a device that doesn’t have killer hardware. Why? Because Windows 8 is designed to be leaner than Windows 7, so the tech that the tablet packs can be light. Even more:
[Another reason why] I am willing to sit about and use non-prime hardware [is this]: I like low prices. Not only am I a cheap bastard, but Apple has just changed the entire pricing scheme of the tablet market by pricing the iPad 2 at $399. That means that any tablet that wants to compete with Apple, who is the tablet market, has to rock a four hundred-dollar tag.
I still think that that is true. Now, business customers will tolerate higher-priced hardware due to their special needs, such encryption and the like, but consumers just want normal function and high value.
So the question then becomes: can Windows 8 tablets of this ilk can be price competitive? And if not, what premium they will require—and can they command it? At issue: The iPad rocks. Great device, low price. That’s a dastardly combination for a latecomer such as Microsoft.
Perhaps ARM tablets will lead the way from a price perspective? That’s a hollow victory, if Intel’s great ideas end up shunted to the market’s higher-end, and thinner, branches.