Microsoft May Find Sales, Profits Scarce in Hardware Business

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2012-06-20 Print this article Print


5. It turns Microsoft into a possible litigation target 

The last thing Microsoft needs right now is to be a hardware company. By getting into hardware, Microsoft opens itself up to a world of possible hurt, including the prospect of being targeted in patent cases. Countless companies right now are being targeted in lawsuits related to smartphones and patents. Microsoft has largely stayed above the fray, targeting Android vendors instead. But with its own hardware, it might put a big target on its back. 

6. Microsoft is locked in to future updates 

If the Surface tablet gains any significant traction in the market, Microsoft will need to continue to improve upon the device to ensure that it stays competitive with other offerings. That€™s a problem. Microsoft has now expanded its requirement to update products when Windows 8 launches. As history has shown, the company has its work cut out for it with software updates, alone. Now, the software giant will need to worry about continuing to improve its hardware, as well. Will Windows updates suffer because of that? 

7. The Apple battle has taken a twist 

Although Microsoft and Apple don€™t necessarily like each other, the companies haven€™t really been major competitors. The only space where they€™ve been taking each other on has been in software€”Microsoft€™s playground. Now, though, Microsoft has opened a new front in that battle directly in iPhone maker€™s wheelhouse: hardware. And as history has shown, Apple doesn€™t take too kindly to other companies entering the space and trying to take it down. 

8. Timing is everything 

In the tablet market, timing is everything. The only issue is, Microsoft doesn€™t appear to understand that. The company is launching a tablet years after it should have kicked things off. It€™s also unveiled the device months before it can launch, allowing customers to forget about it over the summer. Microsoft seems to have forgotten the importance of timing. 

9. Investors are concerned 

As a public company, Microsoft has a responsibility to shareholders to continue to provide value. Market analysts and shareholders will no doubt keep a close eye on Surface. If all goes well, they€™ll stick with the company. If things do not go well, however, look for investors to become extremely concerned and possibly start to sell off the stock. From an investment perspective, there is a lot riding on Surface€™s future. 

10. Costs can skyrocket 

The big difference between hardware and software is that the latter typically delivers quite high margins after developers release several iterations of the product. Windows is no different. The hardware space, however, is filled with products that generate a very small profit on each unit sold. And unfortunately, hidden costs can crop up all over the place. Microsoft better watch out. 

Follow Don Reisinger on Twitter by clicking here 

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at

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