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Will Microsoft try to take on Apple by manufacturing its own tablet?

Microsoft is allegedly prepping to directly compete with Apple in the tablet market

The Redmond, Wash.-based Company scheduled an event in Los Angeles on Monday to make a “major announcement.” AllThingsD reported earlier this week that the event would unveil Microsoft’s tablet plans:

  • After signaling for months that it would attack the market only through its traditional hardware partners, Microsoft has decided to enter the tablet business more directly. […]
  • Sources say that Microsoft concluded that it needs its own tablet, with the company designing both the hardware and software in an effort to better compete against Apple’s strengths. Microsoft’s tablets may include machines running ARM-based processors as well as models running on traditional PC processors, sources said.

Perhaps more interesting: The Wrap claimed Microsoft will self-manufacture the device, which is an assertion that AllThingsD supports. The move is certainly plausible, because Microsoft snatched a 17.6-percent stake in Barnes and Noble’s Nook eReader business last month for $300 million. One could speculate that Apple and Amazon’s dominating presence in the market causes companies like Microsoft and Barnes and Noble to join forces.


Microsoft previously tried to compete against Apple in the mobile space through a manufacturing OEM agreement with Sharp. The two tech giants developed a pair of KIN smartphones in 2010 that sold under Verizon and targeted users of social networking. Kin suffered from poor sales almost immediately, and Microsoft discontinued it just 48 days after launch. Microsoft also introduced its Zune portable media player in 2006 with OEM partners Toshiba, Flextronics, etc., to contend with Apple’s iPod. The Zune brand is now undergoing discontinuation.

Nokia has essentially become a OEM for Microsoft, for most intents and purposes, choosing to drop its smartphone operating systems (Meego and Symbian) to build Windows Phone 7 devices. How is that going? Not so good.

Before you assume all Microsoft’s hardware efforts are failures, remember the Xbox 360 —and a few keyboards and mice—proves that it can manufacture successful products. Let’s also remember the promising Courier tablet that Microsoft ceremoniously killed in 2010 before it even received a chance. The Courier was a Microsoft-manufactured product just like the Xbox and Kin smartphones.

Another thought: Is Microsoft trying to be Apple, which tightly controls its design process and devices? Alternatively, perhaps it is aiming to be more like Google, which partners manufacturing for its reference device, the Nexus line of smartphones, and likely soon a tablet, but it also has many hardware partners lined up.

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