The important thing today is that Microsoft is taking it, productizing it, and moving their marketing muscle behind it. MS has always said they want to move into the home but the only real success they’ve had is getting users to buy desktops for the home. Their other products, like Media Center, haven’t been successful. No one wanted to buy a $1000 set top box and no one wanted to set it up. MS (or one of their partners) should have just sold a preconfigured appliance (like a Tivo).
The amazing thing MS has done is turned this “Wow”-inducing technology into a $5,000-$10,000 product. That price point is well within the range necessary for early adoption at businesses (as is their plan) and seems like it will be well within the range for early home adoption a few years after.
Surface’s biggest challenge for getting into the mass-market home is also it’s biggest advantage. There is no analogue to this appliance/device/gadget/piece of furniture. Is it a better computer? Not exactly. Is it a better coffee table? Yes, but not what people expect in a coffee table and much more expensive. Consumers understood how a plasma/LCD TV for $2000 was a better TV. People understood how a $400 Tivo was a better VCR/Cable box (though that took a little while for people to get). It’s going to take a good while for consumers to understand why they should plop down $2000 (if they can get it to that price) after they get past the “Wow” factor.
Then again, there’s no competitor. Users didn’t want to buy/set up a Media Center PC because Tivo was better, easier, cheaper at what people wanted to use it for. There’s no comparison here, so MS has some time to develop the killer apps for the consumer.
Whatever they come up with, I want one.