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What do Chinese Netizens Think of the Microsoft Surface?

Microsoft’s new Surface tablet is being billed by some as a potential iPad killer. So what do netizens from China, Apple’s second biggest and fastest growing market (representing over 11% of Apple’s worldwide net sales in 2011, an astounding increase of over 450% compared to net sales in 2010) think about the big M’s bold venture into tablet land? Tea Leaf Nation has set out to find out by sampling Chinese netizen sentiment on Sina Weibo, a Twitter-like microblog platform popular in China.

Can’t Wait for It to Surface

Chinese Netizens (mostly) love the Surface

The verdict (based on a random sampling of 80 netizen ‘tweets’ on Sina Weibo): a dominant majority of Chinese netizens love the idea of the Surface, with over 70% of netizens congratulating Microsoft for a tablet that seems more functional and business-friendly compared to Apple’s iPad.

@我是秘匪 from Chengdu tweets, “I’ve never been tempted by the iPad, but this time I’m sold! With a convertible keyboard, I can type in a Word document directly. There is also no stupid iTunes conversion system. This product is like a piece of art designed just for people like me. I’ll definitely buy it when it appears in stores!” {{1}}[[1]]我对iPad一点无动于衷 但我对这个心动了 有实体折叠键盘 可以直接用word软件打字写稿 没有傻逼的itunes转换系统 这简直是给我们这一行量身定做的逸品 上市了一定买![[1]]

@维克多微了你个博 from Shanghai also focuses on the perceived utility of the Surface, tweeting “Cool, a tablet like this will be more than a tool for entertainment. Its commercial usability is increased. The status of iPad is now threatened. I will consider buying a Surface…” {{2}}[[2]]Cool, 这样的平板,就不仅仅是个娱乐工具了,商用性变高了。Ipad的低位有威胁了,我会考虑买一台surface…[[2]]

Like many netizens, @MrGuang from Shenzhen focuses on the promised keyboard cover, writing, “Microsoft has indeed brought a surprise. The key to beating iPad is not the screen or the CPU, but the keyboard!” {{3}}[[3]] 微软果然会带来了惊喜。战胜iPad的法宝,靠的不是屏幕、处理器,而是键盘![[3]]

All hail the iPad killer?

@神话2025 from Beijing, on the other hand, is delighted about the promised USB port and takes the opportunity to ding Apple for its proprietary ports: “Yes a USB port! Apple when will you open up your closed system?” {{4}}[[4]] USB口啊!苹果你的封闭什么时候会放开呢?[[4]]

@贪狼巨门 from Chengdu thinks the Surface is generally better designed than the iPad, tweeting “Got it! Microsoft is indeed an old brand name. It’s no worse than Apple in terms of industrial design — in fact it’s a lot better!” {{5}}[[5]] 微软果然是老牌厂商,就工业设计丝毫不逊apple,简直要好的多.[[5]]

@光年Runner from Shanghai simply tweets, “That’s it!”; @盆盆Penn longingly writes, “I want it…” and @小民是个机器人3 is “super excited about the Surface tablet; must have it.” @bencao tweets a warning to another tablet-maker, writing, “Now we don’t need to bother with any tablets from HTC.” {{6}}[[6]]这样也不用再纠结htc的任何板了[[6]]

Will those keyboard covers be Surface's killer app?

@chensiyu_xp from Guangdong thinks that Microsoft has gotten it right where other would-be iPad killers have failed, tweeting, “Microsoft never specializes in hardware, but this time they’ve got real. Before Microsoft there’s been no originality from other hardware manufacturers, and all the tablets they launched were just copycats of Apple. Samsung tablet is passable, but all the others are trash, including Lenovo… To defend its own software, Microsoft was forced to get into hardware, because without hardware innovations, software is useless. Now it looks like Microsoft still has innovative firepower, at least compared to the large hardware manufacturers…” {{7}}[[7]] 从来不做硬件的微软急了,这个阵营中的厂商没一个有创意,出了一堆平板都是苹果的复制品,除了三星象点样,其他都劣质包括联想。。。微软为了捍卫自己的软件,不得不出手硬件,因为没硬件创新,软件也没用。现在看来,微软还是有创新力,至少比硬件的巨头来说。。。[[7]]

Wait ‘n See

About 15% of the netizens sampled adopted a more cautious wait ‘n see attitude toward the Surface (though many were cautiously optimistic), a stance that is perhaps not surprising given that netizens haven’t been able to test-drive one yet.

@张生生先生 from Shanghai is tickled pink by the prospect of having a keyboard and a Windows operating system, but questions whether the user experience and apps will be up to snuff, tweeting, “Windows plus Office plus integrated keyboard makes me want to replace this iPad toy. But will Windows 8 provide as smooth a user experience and as rich a collection of apps as Apple? But at least Apple has cause for concern now.” {{8}}[[8]] Windows+Office+拆卸键盘让我想换掉ipad这个玩具。但是windows 8能否提供苹果那样流畅的用户体验和丰富的APP应用呢?至少苹果要急一急了。[[8]]

@晓晓晓申 from Shanghai agrees that “the system looks good, but it will rule only if there are lots of apps” and @救赎Shawshank will be “looking closely at the actual user experience…”

@zu_脸 from Beijing writes, “It’s hard to compete with Apple’s hardware, but if [Microsoft] gives out keyboards for free, it will perhaps attract more consumers.” {{9}}[[9]] 硬件争不过苹果 如果附赠键盘的话 会更有吸引力一点[[9]]

The Doubters

A very alluring tagline: a Surface in every Chinese home

About 13% of netizens sampled just weren’t interested for reasons ranging from folks who doubt the compatibility of Windows with a touchscreen interface to those who thought the design of the Surface is “really ugly” to some who — perhaps jaded by the parade of iPad imitators, which are joined in China by a raft of low-end “shanzhai” (山寨) knock-offs like this audacious Steve Jobs commemorative edition android tablet — just seems to trust Apple more when it comes to tablets.

@罗实_ from Beijing tweets, “It’s too late…in the age of the touchscreen, the usability of Windows is suspect. Personally I don’t think it will do well.” {{10}}[[10]]来晚了。。。在触摸屏时代,Windows的易用性值得怀疑,本人不太看好。[[10]]

@sevensun19 from Shanghai loyally tweets, “When it comes to ‘Pads’, Apple is still stronger!” and @ypy1001 from prosperous Guangdong province predicts, “Once you see the real Surface you’ll think it sucks.” {{11}}[[11]]见过真的surface你就觉得这个平板简直是弱爆了[[11]]

@荒漠之清泉 from Shanghai writes, “I predict Microsoft’s tablet won’t do it. From the outside, the only difference seems to be a keyboard…which doesn’t have much use and won’t be as good as a 13 inch laptop. If you want to have speedy input for an iPad, a Logitech wireless keyboard will do the trick.” {{12}}[[12]]微软平板估计没戏。从外观看,差异点就是多个键盘,在这个尺寸屏幕下,由于视距过近原因,键盘用处不大,不如13寸笔记本。如果非要在ipad下快速输入,ipad外接个罗技专用无线键盘就够了。[[12]]

@BrianShel, focusing on an unfortunate software crash during a Surface demo and obviously not a fan of Microsoft software, tweets, “As expected! Surface managed to crash successfully at its first presentation! Looks like crashing will be the specialty of all Microsoft-released products!” {{13}}[[13]] 不负众望!微软Surface发布会上成功死机,看来死机将成为微软产品发布的特色! [[13]]

Thus, despite a largely positive initial response to the announcement of the Surface, it appears Microsoft may have its work cut out for it delivering on the quality user experience, rich library of apps and solid software performance that Chinese consumers have come to love and expect from top-of-the-line tablets if it hopes to grab a piece of Apple’s eye-popping sales figures in the Middle Kingdom.

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