Today, reports of mediocre performance of Microsoft’s Surface RT tablet (buy one here) has mobile industry analysts and insiders wondering what is in store of the Surface brand in 2013. While the launch of the Surface Pro tablet is publicly known to be imminent in “early 2013” (most likely in January), it appears that Microsoft may be planning on releasing three additional Surface-branded products next year, as well as updating their existing products. The general expectation is that Microsoft will bring a phone, mid-size tablet, and even a notebook into the Surface lineup in 2013.
Microsoft Surface Phone
The Microsoft Surface Phone has been rumored since about the time of the Surface RT tablet launch in late October, but this month some images featuring rumored features, such as a fold-out keyboard cover, have been creating a stir. Not much is known about the phone beyond the fact that Foxconn has apparently been contracted to manufacture the device, but even that is mere rumor and insider speculation. The primary concern regarding a Microsoft smartphone is the potential for damage to the relationships between Microsoft and its key hardware partners. However, it must be noted that Google faced the same challenge with its Nexus lineup (and with its purchase of Motorola Mobility), and little transpired there.
Microsoft Surface RT 8.9
Microsoft is also apparently considering a smaller mid-size tablet akin to “media edition” Android tablets. The device would arguably be best suited to compete directly with Amazon’s Kindle lineup of mid-size Android tablets, and, to a lesser extent, the lesser successful iPad mini. With Amazon’s Kindle comprising approximately 20% of the overall tablet market in 2012, Microsoft sees a prime opportunity to seize tablet market share without having to go head-to-head with Google or Apple.
Microsoft Surface Book
What mobile technology brand would be complete without a notebook offering? Microsoft is apparently working on a 14.6” notebook (or more likely, netbook) to appeal to users who would like a larger screen and a traditional clam-shell design for their mobile Windows 8 device. Whether the Surface book will be a high-end notebook, a netbook (like Google’s Chromebook), or a hybrid like Lenovo’s Yoga devices is still unknown.
In addition to the three rumored devices listed above, there is some indication that Microsoft may be planning to release a Surface RT 2 device that updates the technical specs of the existing Surface RT tablet, and a Surface Pro 2 device as well despite the fact that the first Surface Pro version won’t be available until January at the earliest.