Google and ASUS shocked consumers when they revealed that the Jelly Bean-based Nexus 7 tablet would retail for $199, but is Microsoft poised to do the same come October? That may be the case according to a report from Engadget. Microsoft was coy on the pricing details for its Surface tablet, with one report suggesting the 32GB model would retail for $599. According to Engadget’s sources, launch details suggest that the tablet will retail for as low as $199 on October 26th.
Microsoft recently held a session at its TechReady 15 conference that detailed the exact launch plans for the Surface tablet. Surface for Windows RT is planned for release on October 26th, which lines up with previous information, but the shockingly low price is new. Surface for Windows RT reportedly features a similar quad-core Tegra 3 processor to the one found inside the Nexus 7, but the construction materials along with the internals are vastly different.
If you believe the $199 price point, then Microsoft will be attacking the market held by the Nexus 7 along with other budget tablets rather than facing the iPad head-on. That may be the smart play, as it puts Windows RT tablets into the hands of consumers and captures mindshare in the process, something that Windows Phone has failed to do so far. Just look at the recent Nexus 7 launch or the HP TouchPad firesale and you’ll see the virtues of aiming for a lower price point, with consumer scrambling to get their hands on the product.
Having said that, can Microsoft really afford to release the Surface at that price? The Nexus 7 was a careful balancing act between affordable internals and pricing, with Google admitting that it essentially sells the tablet at cost. In comparison, Microsoft is using premium materials, highlighting the magnesium chassis at its Surface event back in June. Not only that, but OEMs are already reportedly unimpressed with Microsoft's tablet attempt, believing the company blind sided them at the announcement. Will Microsoft risk further damage with a super cheap tablet that partners may not be able to compete with once license fees for Windows RT are added into the mix? We'll have to wait and see if this one pans out, but take it with your daily dose of salt in the meantime.