When it comes to its mobile devices division, Microsoft may just be scratching the Surface.
This past weekend saw the debut of new TV commercials for the company's Surface Pro tablet, with none other than Russell Wilson of the NFL champion Seattle Seahawks touting the device's features.
Then word broke Monday about a Microsoft event May 20 in New York, and the wording on the media invite contains a possible - and obvious - clue.
Some NYC-based media were sent an invitation asking them to "join us for a small gathering." Could that be "small" as in a Surface mini-tablet?
A 7- or 8-inch screen version of the Surface has been rumored for about a year, following the success of Apple's iPad mini, the Kindle Fire and a slew of smaller Android-based tablets. In fact, according to market research companies IDC and Gartner, the entire tablet market has moved to the smaller form factor - not just because it's a handier size for travel, work and school, but also because those devices are usually less expensive.
Prices for a 7- to 8-inch tablet can run anywhere from just under $200 to slightly higher than $300. (Apple's iPad mini with Retina display starts at $399, but its regular mini can be had for $299.)
Those price points could be magic numbers for Microsoft. A 32GB Surface 2 currently sells for $449 and a Surface Pro 2 starts at $899. The original Surface can be found for $349. A less expensive Surface could open up new customers for Microsoft, depending on how it's marketed and whether Office is part of the deal.
That "small" gathering may indeed be the start of a big opportunity for Microsoft.