Microsoft competes with its customers

Microsoft campusMicrosoft’s introduction of the Surface Pro 4 last week makes it quite clear that the company doesn’t give a jot about its customers who sell notebook PCs and it is quite happy for them all to wind their operations down.

For the last 20 years, Microsoft has kept a tight grip on original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and original development manufacturers (ODMs) who bear the cost of creating machines running the then ubiquitous Windows and using, by and large, Intel processors.

Margins for OEMs and ODMs are increasingly flat, and demand for notebooks continues to decline, which has led to several players exiting the arena, most notably Sony with its Vaio range of machines.

But the introduction of its own machine, competing with its former customers, only underlines the consolidation that is likely to proceed in the brand notebook market.

Industry delegates at the Canalys Channels Forum last week said they expected to see only three major brand players left in the notebook market in the foreseeable future – HP, Dell and Lenovo. Acer has said earlier this year that it would fight against aggressive acquisitions while Asus hasn’t said very much at all about its future.

Microsoft’s introduction of the Surface Pro 4 appears to pitch it against Apple – but even with an impressive set of specs, it probably doesn’t stand a snowball in hell’s chance of winning much market share.