I attend the launch event for the Surface 2 in Canada last night at the KoolHaus nightclub in Toronto. I remember going to the KoolHaus when it was called the Guvernment, the RPM Club, the Fresh Club and the Twilight Zone Club all in my 20s. But I digress. Microsoft Canada hosted a great night for channel partners, customers and media with a special concert from DJ DeadMau5.
One of the main messages from last night was that the new Surface2 is going to be positioned as a notebook replacement for business. Another message from Microsoft Canada was that the new Surface will be able to compete in the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) space.
Given that Microsoft has established long business relationships with thousands of companies in the enterprise and in the SMB I can see them getting traction with the new Surface. The fact is the new device acts like a notebook. Microsoft has done a great job in accessorizing the Surface2 with a keyboard that comes in many colours, a digital mouse, car charger, and a wireless option for the keyboard and most importantly a docking station with all the ports. Also coming soon is a keyboard that will power-up the device.
Well docked it looks like a corporate notebook that you can see at any workstation. Conventional wisdom says that customers will drop a computing product soon and that product is the notebook and they will keep the smartphone and tablet. With the Surface2, you can dump the notebook but still keep all of its functionality especially the Pro version of the Surface.
Can the new Surface compete in a BYOD world?
Microsoft has certainly planted the seed for it to work. Through the Microsoft store solution providers can bring in customers and give them a first-hand look at the Surface in action along with other OEM vendor products. CDN did a video of this at the store and you can watch it here: BYOD inside the Microsoft store
Again if Microsoft is successful in convincing its channel partners to mine the installed base for BYOD then sure the Surface2 can win provided there is a BYOD policy and structure in place by the customer. The solution provider partner will have a great opportunity in designing that BYOD policy.
One of the questions asked last night was what would be the key selling points of the Surface2 in a BYOD setting. James Nicholson, a senior product manager for the Surface at Microsoft Canada, said two things: Manageability and Security. When compared with IOS and Android devices those two aspects are in Microsoft’s favour, but does the consumer care or is aware of their importance?
Another issue is price. The Surface2 Pro comes in at $899. The keyboard is $149 and the dock is roughly $200. That’s a total of just under $1,300. Some customers may think it’s pricy and it will be up to the solution provider to convince them on functionality, manageability, security and the fact that you can operate it like a notebook to win them over.
The new Surface2 is going to help Microsoft in its devices and services strategy, but it will not be a slam-dunk success without the solution providers being totally committed to it.
One quick hit before I go. I got a chance to meet the new president of Microsoft Canada, Janet Kennedy last night. It was her first day in Canada and I thought she was pretty brave to start her reign meeting journalists, channel partners and customers, some of which are disgruntled. Not this journalist in case you were wondering.
I found her to be engaging and easy to talk to. Kennedy told me that this is her dream job and when she said that she had a big smile and glow to her face. It is a dream job and she has a big task in front of her, but I think she got off to a good start.