Last month the tech world was buzzing with the possibility that Microsoft will aggressively price the Windows RT Surface tablet at $199. While there still are no concrete facts on the pricing of Microsoft’s tablets, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer more or less just crushed the chances of a Surface tablet appearing in the Kindle-Fire-like price range.
When asked about the pricing on Surface tablets in an interview with Seattle Times, Ballmer gave a (very rough) estimate of $300-$800 but also indicated he prefers iPad-like pricing rather than Kindle-Fire-like pricing:
We haven’t announced pricing. I think we have a very competitive product from the features perspective. …
I think most people would tell you that the iPad is not a superexpensive device. … (When) people offer cheaper, they do less. They look less good, they’re chintzier, they’re cheaper.
If you say to somebody, would you use one of the 7-inch tablets, would somebody ever use a Kindle (Kindle Fire, $199) to do their homework? The answer is no; you never would. It’s just not a good enough product. It doesn’t mean you might not read a book on it….
If you look at the bulk of the PC market, it would run between, say, probably $300 to about $700 or $800. That’s the sweet spot.
As Digital Trends points out, a brand new iPad can be had for anywhere between $400-$800 (depending on which model you want). So Microsoft may still feature Windows RT Surface tablets below that iPad $400 entry price to make the product competitive. However, it seems like the prospects of grabbing a Surface tablet for $199 is getting more dim as the big day arrives.
Keep in mind Ballmer is referring to Windows RT Surface, the ARM-based version of Windows 8. The full-fledged Windows 8 Pro Surface tablet, the one based on Intel processors, is likely going to be more expensive than the iPad.
For what it is worth, however, Microsoft isn’t the only one that will be manufacturing Windows 8 tablets. Microsoft OEM partner Lenovo has already gone on record estimating Windows RT tablets at $200-$500. So you may still be able to grab a cheap Windows RT tablet — it just won’t be a Surface one.