So the new Microsoft Surface product was announced on Monday. It’s a hybrid tablet-laptop and it looks really cool. Lot’s has been written about it and the wars between iFaithful and MicroSofties are breaking out in post comments all over the web. My opinion is that Microsoft has a chance to build an ecosystem with Xbox Live, the Windows Store, and the Zune marketplace that would rival Apple and create an alternative walled-garden for non-Apple users.
Lots of pundits are asking about battery life and price. I think the battery life will be sufficient for the mass market use and price will be adjusted as Microsoft sees fit. The really key to the Surface’s success is integration. Since forever Windows users have had to manage their own content, deal with applications that don’t talk to each other and poor communications with hardware makers. The one place where this is not true: Xbox. What’s the best success story in Microsoft’s long history? Xbox. Microsoft is getting it, Ballmer said the word “ecosystem” on Monday. Surface will live or die based on how well the guys in Redmond provide a consolidated user experience. With Windows 7 there’s no coherent answers for users. I load my OS and Office suite and then it’s off to Bing or Google to find a photo manager, a media manager/player, text editors, games, etc. I might pick applications that don’t work well together or that are not supported or that have serious flaws. Surface has to be simple. The Windows Store needs to be the one place to go to get quality apps.
Sony needs to do the same thing with PSN, Vita and Xperia. Anything branded with PlayStation Mobile needs to integrate with PSN content. I really enjoyed my Xperia Play but it went back to AT&T because I couldn’t access my PSN content from my PlayStation Mobile certified device. The Vita will be a winner if it gives PSN members access to their content on the go.