Surface Tablets: Why Acer Thinks Microsoft’s Bid to Rival Apple’s iPad Will Fail

By Alexandra Burlacu , Jun 23, 2012 11:22 AM EDT

Microsoft announced on Monday, June 18, that it would design and sell its own-brand Surface tablet running on Windows 8, marking its first foray into a tablet market dominated by Apple and Google. However, while consumers may be excited to have a new option, Microsoft's partners are not exactly huge fans of the software giant's leap into hardware.

Acer, the world's fourth largest PC maker, said Microsoft has little chances of becoming a true contender to Apple's market-leading iPad with its own-brand Surface tablet, and urged the software maker to focus on its new operating system instead. Oliver Ahrens, Acer's senior VP and president for Europe, Middle East and Africa, told Reuters that Microsoft's bid to rival Apple with the Surface tablet will fail.

"I don't think it will be successful because you cannot be a hardware player with two products," Ahrens told Reuters in an interview. "Microsoft is working with two dozen PC vendors worldwide, including the local guys, whereas Apple is alone, it can more or less do what it wants. Microsoft is a component of a PC system. A very important component but still a component."

Microsoft kept its partners in the dark and released its Surface tablet this week at a secretive press event. According to Ahrens, the software maker has started a new war with Apple instead of focusing on its Windows 8 operating system, and Microsoft's products and partners will be the ones to suffer.

Ahrens' comments come just days after Acer founder Stan Shih said Microsoft's strategy to launch its own tablet should be regarded as a positive one, designed to encourage device makers to bring out their own Windows 8 tablets and benefit from Microsoft's marketing. Shih said Microsoft will withdraw its Surface tablet from the market once this goal is achieved. According to Shih, the software maker has "no reason" to sell hardware because licensing software is more profitable.

On the other hand, Ahrens expressed concerns that Microsoft will focus its resources on building a consumer hardware brand and retail operation and worry less about ensuring Windows 8 is successful for the PC industry. "Instead of enhancing the user experience for Win 8 (...) they open a new battlefield," he told Reuters. "I worry that this will lead into a defocus internally for Microsoft, and then we have to suffer because we are working with their products."

Meanwhile, Dell proved more supportive of Microsoft despite the software maker's efforts to enter the tablet market with its own brand. "We remain committed partners to Microsoft," said a Dell spokesman. "We remain committed to Windows 8, and we will have a Slate product at the time of launch."

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