Microsoft is holding an event on May 20th where the company might unveil a new, smaller version of its Microsoft Surface tablet. While the company isn’t providing many details (what would the purpose of the event be if the details were made public early?) the invitations say “join us for a small gathering.”
Either that means we can expect something “small…” or Microsoft is launching a new line of Magic: The Gathering cards. My money’s on the latter.
Anyway, Microsoft’s been offering Surface tablets with 10.6 inch displays for a few years. The latest models include the Surface 2 with an NVIDIA Tegra 4 processor, 2GB of RAM, a full HD display, and Windows RT software, and the Surface Pro 2 with a Core i5 Haswell CPU, up to 8GB of RAM, digital pen support, and Windows 8.1.
Update: Several sites are reporting that the tablet will have an ARM CPU, Windows RT software, OneNote integration, and a digital pen.
But some of the best-selling tablets on the market are models with smaller, 7 or 8 inch screens like the iPad mini, Google Nexus 7, Amazon Kindle Fire, select Samsung Galaxy Tab models, and even Windows tablets like the Dell Venue 8 Pro. So as Microsoft struggles to make any money from its own tablets, it makes sense for the company to try something smaller… and possibly cheaper as well.
What’s interesting about the move is that when the original Surface tablets launched, they were among the first Windows RT and Windows 8 tablets, and they sort of showcased Microsoft’s vision of a Windows tablet. So even if they weren’t profitable on their own, they helped pave the way for many third-party Windows tablets, which would net Microsoft licensing revenue.
When it comes to small Windows tablets, Microsoft is one of the last major tablet makers to get into the game. Acer, Asus, Dell, Lenovo, and Toshiba all sell inexpensive, small Windows tablets already. And Microsoft recently made it even easier for device makers to sell small tablets at low prices by offering Windows free of charge for small tablets and phones. So it’ll be interesting to see whether Microsoft’s Surface Mini (or whatever it’s actually called) can manage to stand out and justify its existence in a somewhat crowded field.