According to new research from Forrester, Microsoft may be missing the perfect time for tablets. Earlier this year nearly 50% of surveyed consumers wanted a Windows powered tablet compared to only 25% today. The desire for the Windows Tablet is waning, and Microsoft may have to pull a magic rabbit from their hat to get consumers back in the mood for Windows on the small screen.
Cheap alternatives, like the Amazon Fire and the Nook Tablet are bringing down the need and want for an expensive, but fully featured, tablet like a Windows powered or an iPad. Android powered tablets still haven’t reached the personality and ease of use of an iPad and this would be a great place to help Microsoft gain some leverage. Users want a tablet to be a tablet OS: easy to use, quick, very simple yet powerful. They don’t want a full fledged desktop operating system with a million options to get the thing working. It just has to work, which is what the Windows Phone 7 does quite well, and I hope it translates into Windows 8.
For product strategists, Windows 8 tablets provide a cautionary tale: To be a fast-follower, you must amp up the experience — and do so quickly, before the market changes beyond recognition. Windows 8 tablets must provide consumers with a more differentiated product experience than it otherwise would have, had Microsoft entered the market sooner. They’ll have to take a lesson from Amazon’s product strategists, who fundamentally changed the tablet product experience by leading with content and services rather than feeds and speeds, at a compelling price point. In the rapidly evolving tablet market, Amazon — and Barnes & Noble, with its Nook Tablet — demonstrate fast following done right.