Microsoft looking to expand Surface tablet lineup with OEM help, cheaper tablets on the way?

With the forthcoming release of Microsoft’s new flagship tablet, the Surface Windows 8 Pro, speculation has begun as to whether the company will lower the price of the original Surface tablet, the Surface RT.

Windows 8

During Thursday’s company earnings call, Microsoft’s chief financial officer Peter Klein stated, “We’re working closely with chip partners and OEMs to bring the right mix of devices”, and added that Microsoft is looking to “expand the product lineup” and provide “a greater variety of devices at a bigger variety of price points.”

In regard to Surface products, Klein said “We think of Surface as one part of the overall story. It highlights interesting innovation, and demonstrates tightly integrated software and hardware.” Klein admitted that Surface RT has seen “limited distribution this quarter”, but added that Microsoft’s goal is to "expand that” and is looking “forward to continuing the growth of that business.”

Klein did not address the pricing of the Surface RT in the earnings call, but with analysts placing last quarter’s Surface RT sales in the 600,000 to 1,000,000 (units sold) range, which is hardly stellar when compared to sales of the iPad in the same period. Microsoft clearly needs to find a way to generate more sales.

Klein did not reveal a timetable for the announcement and release of new models, and his comments didn't make it clear if Microsoft might release more models on its own, or work in collaboration with OEMs to create and release more models in a variety of price points. But, according to John Koetsier at Venture Beat, a Microsoft spokesperson he spoke with after the earnings call clarified that Microsoft is primarily addressing any need for lower price points on Windows tablets by working with OEMs.

Should Microsoft continue to expand the Surface product line-up?