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NYT: Microsoft admits risk of losing OEMs over Surface tablets

Posted: , posted by Scott H.

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NYT: Microsoft admits risk of losing OEMs over Surface tablets
It turns out those earnings reports can be a lot more interesting than the big numbers that get thrown around during the conference call. Well, perhaps “a lot more interesting” is too strong, but examining a company’s official SEC filings can certainly yield some worthwhile nuggets of information. Earlier this week Google’s filings revealed how much they valued the various parts of Motorola (hint: patents won), and today The New York Times noticed that Microsoft is well aware that they may be pissing off Windows OEMs with their upcoming Surface tablet.

Of course that won’t come as a surprise to our regular readers – several Windows OEMs intimated that they were somewhat less than thrilled about Microsoft’s new foray into the tablet market. But at the least this shows that Microsoft is more aware of the potential repercussions than Pollyanna-like statements by their executives would have us believe. The most relevant part is where Microsoft is discussing potential reasons why they could miss future financial projections, where they explain that “our Surface devices will compete with products made by our OEM partners, which may affect their commitment to our platform.”

So clearly Microsoft knows, and as G.I. Joe used to say, knowing is half the battle; hopefully Microsoft’s awareness means that they are actively working to retain their hardware partners. Microsoft seems to have come around to the belief that tablet computing will replace traditional PCs to become the dominant form of computers, but if they chase their hardware partners out of the Windows tablet market they will be forced to compete with Apple, and it’s not yet clear that Microsoft can go head to head with Apple in the integrated hardware department. Especially if tablet OEMs flock to Android, Linux, or some yet-to-be-released open platform.

The good news is this is less likely to impact Windows Phone hardware partners – Microsoft says they have no interest in making their own WP8 device, so those OEMs are probably feeling less of a conflict of interest, especially since Google owns Motorola now. The only thing Microsoft needs to do to keep its WP8 partners happy is to ship an OS that people actually want to buy. We should know more on that count in a couple of months.

source: Microsoft's  Form 10-K via The New York Times

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