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Last week during their earnings report, Microsoft reported a $900 million write-down in relation to unsold Surface RT inventory. It’s just over a year since the Surface RT launched, and yet despite continual efforts from Microsoft, including iPad baiting commercials, things don’t seem to be going so well. There’s sure to be several reasons behind it, but Nick Bilton at the New York Times makes a valuable point:

Today’s consumers don’t want options. They are impatient. They want to tear their new shiny gadget from the box and immediately start using it. They don’t have time to think about SD cards or USB drives or pens or flip stands.

The Surface RT didn’t allow that. Customers had to think about it.

The iPad is one of the simplest mobile computing devices money can buy, and accounts for some of its popularity. It runs iOS just the same as the iPhone and iPod touch and you get all your apps from the App Store. The only concerns when buying one; storage size and whether to go for a cellular or WiFi only version. You buy it, tear open the box and start using it.

Sadly, for the average tablet buyer, there’s surely too much confusion surrounding the Surface. Top of the list; Windows RT or Windows 8 Pro. While there’s a monumental price difference between the two, the fact it needs explaining at all doesn’t help good marketing. I actually really like the Surface as a piece of hardware, but it is confusing if you’re not someone in the know. The iPad doesn’t suffer this way. It’s just an iPad. No gadgets and gizmos to consider. Do average consumers even care so much for hardware specs?

It comes down to preference of course, but user experience is also one of the key differentiators. Example; “But, why can’t I install Photoshop on my Surface RT, it runs Windows 8, right?” It’s confusing. The iPad experience is familiar, and familiar comforting. Windows 8 is still confusing, it still requires some thought as to what you want to do and how you’re going to do it. Windows is known primarily as being a desktop OS, a productivity machine, a computer. Surface RT isn’t that, it’s closer to the iPad, a more casual experience. But does the average person know that walking into a store?

We’re suckers for simplicity. The whole “it just works” is a little cliche, but it’s true. The iPad is simple, and it just works. If Microsoft is planning a successor to the Surface, I’m really hopeful it’s more successful. No one device, one brand, can be everything to everyone, so we need the likes of Microsoft and Google to continue to push, continue to compete. Taking a $900 million write-down has to be tough to swallow though. It’s an interesting discussion, and I’d like to hear your thoughts. What do you think sets the iPad apart as a success against the Surface RT? Do you think its the simplicity like I, or something else? Let me know in the comments!

Source: New York Times