Is Microsoft Creating Some Bad Blood?

For almost as long as the company has existed, Microsoft has relied on 3rd party hardware developers like Dell, Samsung, Sony, and Hewlett Packard to use the products they created. Because of this, Microsoft has always dominated the operating system market with many companies like the ones listed making use of the many variations of Windows along with other products like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. However, for the first time in thirty-seven years, Microsoft is releasing a computer.

Microsoft released its Surface, a tablet based computer, on October 26, 2012. Many would wonder why Microsoft would venture into such territory. Microsoft has had such success selling its operating systems to other companies, why would it take such a large risk in creating its own computers? The answer comes down to design.

Companies like Dell and Samsung will run Microsoft’s new operating system, Windows 8. But Microsoft felt that in order to fully display the capabilities of Windows 8, they would need to take design duties in their own hands. “We decided to do Surface because it’s the ultimate expression of Windows,” Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft’s Windows division said. “It’s a stage.”

The Surface is designed to come with a magnetically attached keyboard which nearly doubles the tablet as a laptop. By doing this, they are hoping to directly compete with Apple’s iPad. The iPad, due to its ease of use and compatibility, has been adopted by many businesses and schools to be used in their day to day operations. For example, in the article it is mentioned that at a medical technology company 5,500 iPads have been issued to employees for use. Because of this, some have predicted that soon the iPad and other tablets will overtake laptops. Laptops have already lost sales to the iPad and other tablets.

In order to establish itself in the tablet market, Microsoft wants to ensure that the operating system is utilized effectively. By creating its own design for a tablet Microsoft is hoping to take some of those sales away from Apple and make a name for itself in the tablet market. Since most businesses already use PCs, Microsoft should have no issues with compatibility with the computers that companies already use. However, the Surface has not had the time that the iPad has had to develop. Many applications and 3rd party accessories already developed for it. Microsoft will have to hope that the Surface catches on quickly.

As for companies like Dell and Samsung, do you think they should be upset that Microsoft has developed its own tablet that will directly compete with their own? Do you think they feel upset that Microsoft felt that their own hardware would not be good enough to display the capabilities of Windows 8? Or do you think it will help them in the end as more people might by desktops from Dell and other hardware developers due to success of Windows 8? The article seems to suggest that it could be a win-win for these hardware developers but I would like to hear your input on what the future might hold for Microsoft and hardware companies.


Too Little Too Late for Apple? Maybe Worse…

Amid the excitement and chaos surrounding the release of the iPhone 5, many customers noticed that there were some problems with their brand new devices. Issues ranged from strange noises coming from the device to “leaking light.” ‘Whenever a new product is released by any company, it is never going to be perfect the first time around. However  as we have seen with CEO Tim Cook, customer satisfaction is king.

When customers complained about the new “Maps” app that replaced the Google Maps app, Tim Cook wasted no time writing a letter apologizing to customers. So it makes sense that when customers complained about Apple’s newest release, the iPhone 5, Tim Cook called for stronger quality control. But was what he asked for too much?

At the Foxconn production plant, workers, many from the quality control section, have gone on strike. From the China Labor Watch, we hear, “factory management and Apple, despite design defects, raised strict quality demands on workers, including indentations standards of 0.02mm and demands related to scratches on frames and back covers. With such demands, employees could not even turn out iPhones that met the standard.” Obviously, when it becomes impossible to do your job, strike is imminent. These standards led to fights among workers and quality control inspectors which ultimately halted production at times. This will delay shipments for iPhones for weeks.

The question I raise is how important is quality control? In my opinion, if Apple had shown more care about the quality of the design in the first place, then perhaps Apple wouldn’t have had to raise their standards so high. If anything this whole ordeal shows the importance of quality control from the beginning. Apple was most likely relying on the strength of their brand name and felt that strong quality control was not as important as getting as many iPhones out in a short amount of time to meet the record setting demand. And maybe they were right. The iPhone 5 had one of the biggest releases in smart phone history. People camped out for days just to get their hands on one. And even though there have been numerous complaints about the design, many are still lining up to get the phone. The other day I went to the Apple store to get my phone (the 3Gs) repaired and asked about the iPhone 5 because I was thinking about purchasing one. They told me they were out and had no idea when the shipments were going to come in because the employee described the deliveries as “random.”

So back to my original question. How important is quality control? One piece of data that I would like to see is out of all these people who complained about the phone, how many actually returned the phone? Apple possesses one of the strongest brand names with large amounts of customer loyalty. I would also be interested to hear how many people would take an iPhone 5 now that leaks a little light than an iPhone 5 that is perfect in five weeks. I’m sure the data would shock us all as many people prefer immediate gratification as opposed to high quality.

I would like to hear your thoughts on whether you believe in the highest quality control standards in relation to the phone or whether you believe that Apple should start churning out these phones like hot cakes and drop the price.