By Alexandra Burlacu | Oct 10, 2012 12:22 PM EDT
Microsoft has not released pricing details for its upcoming Surface tablets, but a bill-of-materials analysis suggests pricing would fall in line with low-end PCs and ultrabooks.
According to one analyst, the least expensive Microsoft Surface tablet will be priced more in line with a low-end laptop rather than a $199 Google Nexus 7 slate. The estimated price does not include the cost of Microsoft's highly-touted keyboard. The analyst pegs the cost of the RT version between $400 and $500, and the Pro between $799 and $899.
"Microsoft has been very tight-lipped about the price of its Microsoft Surface range of tablets," Sameer Singh, an analyst with India-based consulting group Finvista Advisors, wrote in a blog post on Tuesday, Oct. 9.
Singh came up with these price estimates based on former bill of materials (BOM) calculations for other devices such as the Amazon Kindle Fire, the Google Nexus 7, and Apple's high-end iPad.
The analyst's breakdown for the RT version of the Surface lined up all of the components - $66.95 display, $43.71 touch screen, $21 processor, $4.10 camera, and $25.74 battery - for a total of $298.82. With a $10 manufacturing cost, the direct costs jump to $308.82.
"Microsoft would be under considerable pressure to ensure that the Surface is priced in the same ballpark as tablets from OEM partners," Singh wrote. "Unfortunately, OEMs are also at a cost disadvantage," he added, referring to the fact that companies need to pay Microsoft a $50 to $65 licensing fee per Windows RT device.
"OEMs could cut some of the costs mentioned in the BOM above to boost margins (for example, they could use a cheaper casing), but Microsoft's hardware requirements could make steep cuts a challenge," explained Singh. "Including the license fee, I expect the BOM of most Windows RT tablets to fall within the $300-$350 range."
As a result, concluded the analyst, the RT Surface will likely come at the $399 - $499 price point, with a 25 to 35 percent gross margin for Microsoft.
Meanwhile, the Pro version will likely launch for a much higher price, between $799 and $899 with a 25 to 30 percent gross margin, according to Singh. Based on the RT costs, the analyst went on to estimate another $321 in BOM components for the Surface Pro tablet. The considerable price increase would be primarily due to the $204 Intel core i5 processor.
While Singh's estimates may prove to be close to reality, nothing is official yet. Microsoft did not provide exact pricing details for its Surface tablets, and a spokeswoman for the company said that Microsoft does not comment on rumors or speculation.
The Surface tablet will make its debut on or around Oct. 26, when Microsoft's latest Windows 8 operating system becomes generally available.
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