CARLSBAD, CA: Microsoft is bringing to consumers the hands-on experience of its newest technology, Microsoft Surface, through commercial partnerships in the travel, mobile phone, and gaming sectors.
The product launch and partnership announcements were made at the Wall Street Journal’s D: All Things Digital conference on May 30, targeting technology VIPs and industry journalists. Consumers will have access to Surface at T-Mobile stores, Sheraton Hotels & Resorts, and Harrah’s Entertainment’s Las Vegas properties beginning November 2007.
Surface looks like a table with a top that allows multiple users to manipulate digital information across a 30-inch screen with their hands. At Harrah’s and Starwood locations, users will be able to make reservations, take virtual tours, and download music, among other capabilities. Because the system also recognizes objects, customers at T-Mobile stores will be able to place cell phones on the Surface screen to learn product information. Microsoft also has an agreement with International Game Technology, but details of how it will be used are undecided.
“Our commercial model will allow our partners to enrich and enhance their customer experiences, thereby also familiarizing them with our technology,” said Mark Bolger, senior director of marketing for Microsoft Surface Computing. “We have a vision beyond chapter one, which will include Surface moving into other markets and, ultimately, the home.”
Over the next few months, Surface expects to make other partnership announcements, which will lead to other experiential marketing opportunities. Microsoft will bring Surface to an event at a New York Sheraton Hotel on June 9 and a San Diego trade show in August. Media coverage has included The New York Times, the Today show, and other outlets.
Their strategy is to educate the public about Surface in the commercial space (the company calls it a “new product category”) so, when it’s available for use in the home, consumers will be eager to own one.
“Technology can typically be intimidating,” said Bolger. “Surface is approachable. You can use [it with] the flick of your wrist… we’re moving from click to flick.”