Remember that totally awesome touchscreen demo at huge scale that had broad applications such as natural photo sorting and editing and fingerpaints? Well, in advance of the D Conference today, Microsoft decided it would be a good idea to launch a product line that is…exactly that demo. They call it Surface, and if it lives up to the demo videos on the official site, it will be spectacular in use.
T-Mobile, Harrah’s Entertainment and others plan to roll them out very quickly. You might be playing with one in a few days. So what’s the problem? Why isn’t Apple panicking? Because this is as far from a consumer application as you can get. A 30″ touchscreen display built on a coffee table in the living room is years away from being something people will buy.
Granted, Apple’s multi-touch product, the iPhone, is also very high-end, but a $600 phone is closer to reality than the Future Table 6000. Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure that Microsoft will make money from this selling to stores and casinos. There are many people looking for an interactive table for what I would assume is at least $10,000, if not more. But this is like a new pinball machine, not a technology that will make an impact at home for years to come.
It is an amazing demo, but it’s far from ready for prime-time. This is for an exciting display in a store. The fact that MS isn’t talking about rolling this technology to other platforms yet indicates that they’re not playing for those markets. And I will pit the iPhone or a touch-enabled iPod against a to-be-announced Surface Zune any day. If anything, launching this way is a sign that Microsoft knows it doesn’t have a product to compete with the iPhone ready to go. So they brought out the circus edition of the technology.
I’m sure the clowns and the elephants are psyched.
Microsoft Surface: multi-user touch table [MacNN]