Microsoft Ponders Smaller Surface Mini to Compete with Apple, Google, and Amazon

Microsoft recently unveiled its Surface 2 and Surface 2 Pro products, both of which feel like premium upgrades over the original (we were on hand at the event and got to play with these devices). They're leaner, faster, and generally better equipped than the original Surface tablets, but if there's one area consumers will inevitably knock, it's the price tag. The Surface 2 starts at $449, and with the plethora of Android tablets selling for hundreds less, that could become a hurdle.

One solution is to release a smaller version of Surface. It's been rumored before and it's happening again. Rhoda Alexander, director of Tablet and Monitor Research at IHS iSuppli, tells CNET that Microsoft is considering a 7.5-inch Surface RT with a 1400x1050 resolution.

Microsoft hasn't announced anything of the sort, though CNET says it was previously told by DisplaySearch that mass production of a smaller Surface would begin in the first quarter of 2014.

Surface 2

Pricing is also unknown, except for the obvious fact that it would have to be cheaper than a standard Surface. That's really where Microsoft needs to take these things, and it's not too late. If you recall, Android went through similar growing pains in the tablet space. Everyone just assumed that when Android entered the fray, it would undercut the iPad in price, but Google's hardware partners instead tried to compete at the $499 level and above. That proved a tough road, and it wasn't until Amazon introduced its comparatively affordable Kindle Fire that things really started to take off for Android in tablets.

Surface is a different product, of course, but if consumers ultimately show they're unwilling to pony up $449 or more, Microsoft will have find a way to give them what they want (a lower price tag).