Reuters reports that Microsoft, which has long struggled in China where its products suffer piracy rates as high as 77%, is hoping that the new Surface tablet, launching on Friday, will provide a route into the (paying) Chinese market.
Surface will go on sale in China at the same time as other countries, which “reflects how important China is to Microsoft” according to Adam Leach, a London-based analyst with technology consulting firm Ovum. Other tech companies (*cough* Apple *cough*) drag their feet when it comes to bringing new products to the mainland Chinese market.
Microsoft has persuaded Chinese developers such as Tencent Holdings (0700.HK), Sina Corp (SINA.O) and PPTV to develop Windows 8 versions of their popular apps that will run on the Surface in advance of the launch.
That means that while globally the Surface will have fewer apps than Google’s Play store and the Apple’s App Store, the Windows App Store in China will have the second-highest number of apps globally when Windows 8 is launched, according to Ralph Haupter, Microsoft’s China chief executive.
Surface will also challenge Apple on price, a 32GB model will cost 3,688 RMB, around 800 RMB cheaper than the equivalent iPad. Apple’s new “crazy expensive” iPad Mini will likely retail in China for around 2,200 RMB (though not for some time).
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