Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Takes Aim at the Macbook Air -- Again

By
A A A

Microsoft 's latest ad campaign pits its Surface Pro 3 against Apple 's Macbook Air. Emphasizing its superior specs, utility, and customization, Microsoft appears bent on selling its latest laptop/tablet hybrid to would-be buyers of Apple's Ultrabook.

Although the Surface Pro 3 comes out ahead in several key areas, it doesn't seem likely to unseat Apple's Macbook Air.

Jack of all trades, master of none
Microsoft's most recent ad, titled "Power," emphasizes the Surface Pro 3's unique capabilities. Unlike Apple's Macbook Air, Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 includes a touch screen, a stylus, and a kickstand -- it is, as Microsoft repeatedly emphasizes, the "tablet that can replace your laptop."


Although the Surface Pro 3 is a dramatic improvement over its predecessors, major reviews have found fault with the device, particularly in the context in which Microsoft has chosen to present it. Compared to other laptop/tablet hybrid, the Surface Pro 3 is unmatched, but when compared to Apple's Macbook Air, it comes up lacking.

Re/code 's Katherine Boehret, in particular, took issue with the comparison, declaring bluntly that the Surface Pro 3 didn't stand up to the Macbook Air. As a tablet, the Surface Pro 3's size is a hinderance -- and as a laptop, it's makeshift keyboard is a severe limitation.

Microsoft's money-losing Surface
From a business perspective, it's become difficult to tell what Microsoft hopes to accomplish with the Surface -- it hasn't made the company money, and seems only to have weakened the Windows ecosystem.

Microsoft may wish to brand the Surface Pro 3 an alternative to Apple's Macbook Air, but in reality, it could be far more threatening to other Windows-powered Ulrabooks. Responding to Microsoft's recent shift into hardware, Hewlett-Packard 's CEO branded Microsoft an outright competitor; Acer has made similar remarks in the past.

At its best, the Surface Pro 3 appears to perfectly embody the spirit of Windows 8 -- one device for an operating system that can do just about anything. But if recent reports prove true, Microsoft may be moving away from such a strategy: Windows 9, due out next year, is rumored to reverse many of the changes Microsoft made to Windows, including bringing back the start button, doing away with the charms bar, and removing the Metro interface from Windows-powered desktops.

It's difficult to tell exactly how much Microsoft has lost on its Surface venture, but ComputerWorld recently estimated that it may be as much as $1.7 billion. To be fair, that's not much to a company with $85 billion in the bank, but it's certainly not a positive.

Mac market share is steadily increasing
"Our competition...is confused," Apple's CEO Tim Cook said last year in an obvious reference to Microsoft's Surface. "They're trying to make PCs into tablets and tablets into PCs."

As Microsoft struggles to find a market for its Surface, Apple's Macbooks have only become more popular. Mac market share has steadily risen over the last decade, and its growth in the U.S. has picked up in recent quarters.

Apple's Macs now consistently account for more than 10% of the U.S. PC market, and at times has defied the general slump in PC sales -- last holiday quarter, for example, Apple's Macs outpaced the larger PC market by around 36 percentage points, according to research firm Gartner.

The Macbook Air, in particular, appears to have been instrumental in the Mac's recent resurgence. Apple's share of the U.S. PC market broke above 10% for the first time in recent history in the third quarter of 2010, just a year and a half after the first-generation Macbook Air debuted. More recently, research firm NPD reported that the Macbook Air accounted for 56% of the Ultrabooks sold in the U.S. during the first five months of 2013.

Unfortunately for Microsoft, the Surface Pro 3 does not appear to be the device to reverse that trend. Perhaps consumers will be swayed by this recent advertising blitz, but if history is any guide -- Microsoft allegedly spent more than $1 billion advertising Windows 8 and the original Surface in 2012 -- that seems unlikely.

Leaked: Apple's next smart device (warning, it may shock you)
Apple recently recruited a secret-development "dream team" to guarantee its newest smart device was kept hidden from the public for as long as possible. But the secret is out, and some early viewers are claiming its everyday impact could trump the iPod, iPhone, and the iPad. In fact, ABI Research predicts 485 million of this type of device will be sold per year. But one small company makes Apple's gadget possible. And its stock price has nearly unlimited room to run for early in-the-know investors. To be one of them, and see Apple's newest smart gizmo, just click here !

The article Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Takes Aim at the Macbook Air -- Again originally appeared on Fool.com.

Sam Mattera has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days . We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy .

Copyright © 1995 - 2014 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy .



The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.



This article appears in: Investing , Stocks

Referenced Stocks: AAPL , MSFT

Motley Fool

Motley Fool

More from Motley Fool:

Related Videos

Stocks

Referenced

Most Active by Volume

33,110,376
  • $113.99 ▲ 1.77%
25,034,179
    $17.98 unch
24,486,872
  • $7.41 ▲ 2.07%
20,864,535
  • $7.39 ▼ 2.76%
18,600,501
  • $8.30 ▼ 0.36%
17,530,211
  • $8.14 ▲ 3.17%
17,299,208
  • $93.79 ▲ 2.74%
14,669,760
  • $25.78 ▼ 0.19%
As of 12/26/2014, 04:15 PM


Find a Credit Card

Select a credit card product by:
Select an offer:
Search
Data Provided by BankRate.com