During Tuesday’s quarterly earnings call, CFO Amy Hood said that part of the reason revenue from the company’s line of Surface tablets took a hit was because it had decided to kill an unreleased product.
“During the quarter, we reassessed our product roadmap and decided not to ship a new form factor that was under development,” Hood said. While she doesn’t identify the Surface Mini by name, other reports claimed Microsoft has scrapped plans to release the tablet late in the game, then the company accidentally confirmed the product’s existence in a user manual that referenced the Mini directly.
The decision to take the ax to the Surface Mini was reportedly influenced by CEO Satya Nadella, whose bid to reshape Microsoft includes a clear focus on productivity. While the company has many consumer-facing products (notably Xbox), Windows devices have been criticized as not serving small-screen tablet market as well as iPads and Android models, and market statistics reflect this.
The small-screen tablet market has grown quickly over the past two years, but Windows didn’t support those designs until fall 2013 with the release of Windows 8.1. It appeared inevitable that the Surface line would get a Mini version after that, but since smaller tablets are inherently more about consumption than productivity, such a product wouldn’t fit with Nadella’s vision of the new Microsoft.
When Microsoft held the next Surface product launch in May, it instead announced the Surface Pro 3, a 12-inch tablet that runs full Windows 8.1 Pro, powered by an Intel Core processor.
Other manufacturers have filled the void with small Windows tablets, and most run Windows 8.1, powered by Intel Atom chips. Lenovo was reportedly going to stop selling small Windows tablets in the U.S. due to lack of demand, but the company quickly reaffirmed its commitment to different-size tablets and said it would bring a new small Windows tablet to the American market before the end of 2014.