June 23, 2012, 7:14 AM — Microsoft needs to hook customers with better pricing if it wants to capture market attention with its new Surface tablets, analysts said Tuesday.
Microsoft said it will roll out the Windows RT version of Surface with prices in line with Windows RT machines from makers such as Asustek Computer. Asus has shown a Windows RT tablet, but has not announced pricing or availability.
The Windows 8 Pro version of the Surface will be priced in line with Intel-powered ultrabooks by other vendors, Microsoft said. Those guidelines could put the Windows RT Surface at more than $600, and the Windows 8 Pro at more than $700, and possibly higher, several analysts said.
But those prices are too high to win favor with buyers who might be intrigued by the innovative Surface tablets with their attachable keyboards that double as covers, analysts said.
Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates, said that $600 for a Windows RT Surface tablet would be a "non-starter." Even $500 would probably be too high unless that price includes a cover/keyboard, he said.
"I think the Windows RT version needs to be in the $400 range to compete with older iPads and the new Android devices," he said. The new iPad starts at $499.
Gold said a Windows 8 Pro Surface will probably cost $600 to $700.
Tom Mainelli, an analyst at IDC, said he assumed that the cover/keyboards will be sold separately, which could raise the costs substantially, possibly by $100 or more.
"All Microsoft said was that they will be competitive to comparable products, and I assume the covers will be separate," he said. "They spent a lot of time on the covers, so what will a $600 [Windows RT] tablet and cover cost? That will change [a buyer's] liability a lot."