Surface Pro usage inches up, lags other Windows devices
March was another ho-hum month on the usage front for laptops and tablets running Windows 8 and RT, according to AdDuplex, a cross-platform network for Windows Phone and Windows 8 app developers.
Few new releases appeared during the period to affect usage patterns, the ad network noted. The one new release that did appear—the HP Envy m6 laptop—immediately broke into the month's top 10 usage rankings.
Microsoft's premium tablet, the Surface Pro, showed some usage gains during the month, but it's still deep in the rankings compared to other Windows 8 devices and its RT slate sibling.
Surface Pro jumped to 25 in the table, up from 52nd place in March. Still, it only has 0.5 percent of the usage pie.
That compares the 6.2 percent for Surface RT, which is the usage leader for all Win8/RT devices.
"Surface Pro is doing OK in the market," Stephen Baker, an analyst with the NPD Group in Port Washington, N.Y. told PCWorld.
"It's a $1000 product," he continued. "In general, demand starts to tail off when you get above seven or $800 for anything."
"The available market for that kind of product is small right now," Baker added.
Laptops vs. tablets
When analyzing AdDuplex's numbers, it's important to take into account that most of the tech products in the mix are running Windows 8 and are laptops. Comparing laptop usage to tablet usage is a bit like comparing apples to oranges.
The ad outfit does breakout Surface usage. As might be expected, Surface RT, which has been on the market longer and sells at a lower price than Surface Pro, had usage figures nine times greater than the Pro during March.
Some withering criticism has been heaped on RT, capped by Samsung's withdrawal from the platformin March. The result was a one percent drop in usage of RT compared to Windows 8, according to AdDuplex.
"It looks like the situation has stabilized in the Windows 8/RT world, and it’s hard to expect any noticeable changes until some new hit models are introduced by either of the players," the ad network noted.
NPD's Baker agreed that the Windows 8 market is flat right now, compared to last year. "But not exceptionally so," he added.
"Windows 8 is doing pretty well, considering the challenges it has," he observed.
The ecosystem could get a boost if smaller, cheaper Windows 8 tablets began appearing in the market, he said.
What does Windows 8 need?
"What Windows 8 needs to do is pretty obvious," Baker said. "It needs more touch products and a competitive seven- or eight-inch tablet to compete with the Kindle Fire HD and iPad Mini and the Nexus 7 and the Galaxy Tabs in the lower price ranges."
"At this point," he added, "it's pretty clear that a traditional clamshell product under $500 with Windows 8 suffers in comparison to a low-cost tablet."