We're well into tablet season with the release of the new Kindles and the almost certain release of the iPad Mini next month, but Microsoft's Surface is in the game too, though we know quite little about it. In an interview with the Seattle Times, CEO Steve Ballmer was kind enough to mention the "sweet spot" for Surface pricing. Unfortunately it's $500-wide.
"Probably $300 to about $700 or $800" in particular. It's a pretty big sweet spot, but some of Ballmer's other comments are telling. From the Seattle Times:
I think most people would tell you that the iPad is not a superexpensive device. ... (When) people offer cheaper, they do less. They look less good, they're chintzier, they're cheaper.
If you say to somebody, would you use one of the 7-inch tablets, would somebody ever use a Kindle (Kindle Fire, $199) to do their homework? The answer is no; you never would. It's just not a good enough product. It doesn't mean you might not read a book on it....
His comments about the iPad's price and the Kindle's functionality seem to suggest that Surface might position itself as a more expensive, but hyper-competent tablet in each tier. A Surface RT could be $300-$350 and tout itself as better than the Kindle Fires, the Nexus 7, and potentially the iPad Mini, while the Surface Pro could be as much as the iPad, or more, and use that as a way to try and frame itself as better. It doesn't look like Ballmer is concerned about beating anyone on price.
Of course, we won't really know until the Surface launch on October 26th, but it seems unlikely those $199 rumors are true, unless they come heavily subsidized. Microsoft seems like it wants to make real money on these things, and doesn't want to be the "cheap" option. [Seattle Times via The Verge]