We spoke with industry insiders late last night in Taipei and it would appear that Microsoft are deep in negotiation with a handful of their leading partners. As we have reported before, Microsoft have irked many of their partners by announcing the release of their own Surface tablet, which will compete against other tablets in the same sector.
Several of my contacts in Taipei confirmed that Hewlett Packard have stopped development of Windows RT tablet PC's and Dell are considering walking away from the platform. An Asus insider spoke with me a while ago and said they have also concerns. Acer CEO JT Wang said “Think twice, It will create a huge negative impact for the ecosystem and other brands may take a negative reaction. It is not something you are good at so please think twice.”
Toshiba have decided to stop development of their own Windows RT tablet, causing lost orders for Texas Instruments. Qualcomm may also now be seriously affected due to this shift from other partners. Sources I spoke with last night said that Nvidia are likely to still benefit from sales, but other chip production companies may be left hanging in the wind.
Microsoft have tried hard to convince their partners that the Surface is being released to ‘strengthen' the market and help with the Windows RT adoption, but many are unhappy and willing to walk away completely.
It may be that Microsoft release the Surface at $199, but they are not confirming the price with anyone, including the partners.
I also heard that Hewlett Packard are ditching RT tablets to focus on Windows 8 models, leaving Qualcomm to work with Dell. Dell are now also wondering if the move is worth it, especially as they have reported dropping sales in the last fiscal report. They may be unwilling to take the risk in the current economic climate.
Samsung, Lenovo and Asus are planning to release Windows RT tablet computers, but after speaking with an insider close to ASUS, they are not willing to commit a lot of resources to the development, feeling that Android and Windows 8 products are the way ahead.
Kitguru says: Microsoft have successfully alienated themselves from many of their partners. Maybe it is a good thing however, as Microsoft may commit to releasing very cheap tablet computers to draw the consumer away from the iPad, offering low cost, capable alternatives.