If you’ve been watching the NFL at all these last two weeks, you’ve no doubt seen Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)‘s new Surface commercial. The ad pits the Windows-maker’s own Surface RT tablet against Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)‘s full-size iPad.
Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)’s ad agency did a good job explaining why the Surface RT is superior to the iPad. Unfortunately, it leaves out the most important factor; the only factor that even matters.
The iPad’s flaws
As Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)’s ad is quick to point out, the iPad has its flaws — numerous ones, in fact. The iPad, for example, lacks a USB port, and more generally, any sort of expandable storage. It’s expensive compared to its rivals, and it’s pretty basic — it doesn’t really have additional features like the Surface RT’s kickstand and keyboard cover.
But fundamentally, that just doesn’t matter.
Although Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has been passed by in terms of total tablet market share, the “King of Cupertino” remains the single biggest tablet vendor. Despite its numerous flaws, consumers continue to flock to Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s flagship tablet. (Not to mention Apple’s iPad Mini, which — as I’ve said before — is even more outclassed compared to its rivals, yet estimates suggest is actually more popular than the full-size iPad.)
And therein lies the problem for Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT): When it comes to tablets, consumers want apps, and when it comes to apps, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s iPad is the undisputed king. Not only can the iPad draw from the large library of apps designed for the iPhone, but there are thousands of apps made specifically for Apple’s tablet.
According to Flurry, 80% of the time consumers are using tablets, they’re using an app.
The Windows app store continues to lack apps
That’s a problem for Windows tablets like the Surface RT, because the Windows mobile app store is decisively lackluster. Numerous key apps like HBO Go, Vine, LinedIn and Amazon Instant video are missing, in addition to many popular games such as Candy Crush, important because of how much time people spend playing games on their tablets (according to Business Insider, over two-thirds of the time, tablets are being used to play games).
As long as such a large app disparity exists, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) is going to have a difficult time convincing users to buy its tablet over Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s competing product. Even $150 more expensive, the iPad’s app library makes it more useful than the Surface RT.
Hewlett-Packard gives up on Windows RT
Perhaps that’s why other tablet makers, like Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ), have so far avoided releasing a Windows RT device. As one of the world’s largest makers of traditional PCs, the two tech giants have had a close working relationship for years.