The thought that Acer’s CEO JT Wang was quoting Celine Dion to get his point across is a tantalizing one, however despite Wang’s use of “think twice,” he didn’t launch into the remainder of Dion’s hit. Shame, as it’s probably quite appropriate.
Speaking to the Financial Times, Wang says he has been in touch with Microsoft regarding the impending release of its Surface tablets. He’s quoted as telling Microsoft, “Think twice, it will create a huge negative impact for the ecosystem and other brands may take a negative reaction.”
Wang sees the Windows 8 tablets as a wedge between the software maker and the hardware manufacturers who support it, and isn’t convinced by Microsoft’s ability to make decent products either, adding “It’s not something you are good at, so please think twice.”
Exactly what Wang expects to happen isn’t clear, as Microsoft isn’t likely to back away from the Surface at Acer’s behest.
If he had continued to quote Celine though, he may have inadvertently stumbled on the heart of the problem.
“Baby, this is serious, are you thinking about you or us?”
Microsoft has made it very clear it’s thinking about number one with Surface, and wasn’t all that complimentary about its hardware partners when it did so. A quote taken from an SEC filing by Microsoft revealed it knew exactly what it was in for with the announcement of the Surface.
“Our Surface devices will compete with products made by our hardware OEM partners, which may affect their commitment to our platform.”
The company stops short of saying it doesn’t care, but it certainly doesn’t try to alleviate any concern. The secrecy surrounding the tablets probably didn’t help either, as it has been said Microsoft didn’t tell anyone about its plans until a few days before the launch event.
This puts Steve Ballmer’s comments made after the launch of the Surface into context. He said “PC partners knew in advance we were announcing something today in this space,” but said “no comment” when asked how they felt about it.
Microsoft could argue that the Surface tablets are designed to be inspirational, and that they’re there to be beaten by Acer, HP, Dell and everyone else; but it isn’t leaving Windows 8’s success down to chance, and marketing its own products is proof.
“Be sure before you close that door”
An analyst from Ovum in New York told Reuters that Microsoft’s handling of the situation was “a huge vote of no confidence” in its previously loyal hardware partners.
This risky strategy could see previously committed partners heading for greener, Android-shaped, pastures, and only dabbling in Windows 8 outside of desktop machinery.
If this happens, it could be Microsoft singing Think Twice to Acer and all the rest, with particular emphasis on the line “Don’t do what you’re about to do, my everything depends on you.”