Archive for June, 2012

Software giant Microsoft triggers the compettion by challenging Apple with sleek gadgets.

Microsoft has unveiled its own line of tablet computers which it expects will be an “iPad killer”. Hoping its Surface tablets will take on both Apple and Google in the market; Steven Sinofsky, Microsoft Windows division president, called the new device a “tablet that’s great PC – a PC that’s a great tablet”.

Speaking at a press launch, Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer said the two new tablet PCs were part of a “whole new family of devices” the company is developing. They will run versions of Microsoft’s new Windows 8 software because the company wants to “give Windows 8 its own companion hardware innovations”. Although the company has not given any pricing information, Mr Ballmer said that they will be “comparable” to current tablet prices when they go on sale later this year.

Microsoft traditionally relied on others to make computers and phones that run its software. However, the company now offers both gadgets and software and hopes to take on Apple. “We believe that any intersection between human and machine can be made better when all aspects, hardware and software, are working together.” added Mr Ballmer.

The Surface is 9.3mm thick, with a magnesium case and a 10.6-inch HD widescreen display. It also has an integrated kickstand, and weighs less than a kilo (1.5lb). A slightly thicker version – still less than 14mm thick and under 2lb – will work on Microsoft’s Windows 8 Pro operating system. Both devices comes with a detachable keyboard and trackpad that attach magnetically to the tablet.

However, according to experts the company faced a tough battle. IDC analyst Al Hilwa said: “It raises the bar on how Microsoft executes on this, because now Microsoft’s name is on it. They’ve got to get it right – they’ve got to really hit it out of the ballpark.”

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Just imagine you go into the market because you have a headache and need a painkiller. On the shelves there are many boxes of painkillers. On the top shelf, you see the aspirin and below there are some other cheaper brands you have never heard about or used. Which one do you choose? Most probably, many people would prefer to buy aspirin. The same is true of most fast-food restaurants, many national hotel chains and many, if not most, shops on the high street.

Many common medicines like painkillers and fast-food restaurants are only one aspect of broader phenomenon: the role of brand names, names owned by particular companies that differentiate their products from those of other firms in the minds of consumers. In many cases, a company’s brand name is one of the most important assets it has. Clearly, Mc Donald’s is worth far more than the sum of the french fries and hamburgers the company produces.

As a matter of fact, companies often defend their brand names, suing anyone else who uses them without permission. You may talk about googling a subject for your learning, but unless the service in question comes from Google, you should describe it as searching on the internet.

As in the case of advertising, the social usefulness of brand names creates a dispute. Does the preference of consumers for known brands reflects irrationality even though other brands are cheaper with the same functionality? Or do brand names convey real information by serving a real purpose rather than creating unjustified market power? Most probably, the answer is some of both. Consumers often pay more for brand-name goods in the supermarket even though consumer experts claim that the cheaper store brands are equally good.

On the other hand, for many products the brand name does convey information. A tired and hungry traveller arriving in an unfamiliar area can be sure of what awaits in Holiday Inn and in Mc Donald’s. Although sometimes traveller may prefer to try another hotel or fast food restaurant that might be better or worse.

Furthermore, sometimes brand names offer some assurance that the seller has a deep interaction with its customers and a reputation to protect. If a traveller eats a bad meal at a restaurant in a tourist trap and vows never to eat there again, most probably the restaurant owner may not care, because it is a small chance that the traveller will be in the same place again in the near future. But if that traveller eats a bad meal at Mc Donald’s and vows never to eat at a Mc Donald’s again, that matters to the company. So this gives Mc Donald’s an incentive to provide consistent quality while providing travellers for some assurance that the quality control are in place.