Microsoft has garnered an impressive range of OEMs for its Tablet PC initiative, but they're not a happy lot.
From Day One relationships have been fraught: the Tablet PC launch day was the occasion for one of Carly Fiorina's finest hissy fits. After winning a seat at the right hand seat of Bill Gates, HP's CEO refused to brandish her own Tablet PC - holding up what looked like a leather-bound paper organizer instead. (Gates reaction here is quite a picture - see photo #5. Fiorina only relented, and presented HP's Tablet PC after backstage wrangling. Gates then banned HP staff from the after-show party).
This week Acer went public, accusing Microsoft of not marketing the platform enough, and accusing it of over-pricing Windows XP Tablet Edition, reports CNET Asia. Acer president Wang Chen-tang said "the cost of a tablet PC is $200 (7,000 Taiwan dollars) more than its notebook counterpart. Of this difference, the hardware cost is only between $30 and $60. The majority of the difference comes from the OS license. We have tried to negotiate the fee with Microsoft several times in vain. It's very regrettable."
Nor were OEMs happy at Toshiba's exclusive bundling deal for One Note, Microsoft's essential jotting application. This isn't part of Office, obliging OEMs to make their own arrangements. Tabula PC reports that even Toshiba doesn't get to sell it into consumer retail channels. Microsoft is damned either way on this deal, unbundling One Note enables OEMs to differentiate themselves and gives them an incentive to develop better input capture software.
With Tablets failing to attract many 'corridor warriors' and premium pricing making them highly uncompetitive in market awash with bargain notebooks, vendors continue to find making money an uphill battle. Under a million will be sold this year, less than five per cent of the global notebook market, with HP the leader. ®