I don't think Microsoft ever truly got the respect it deserved for Surface . And now, it seems we have ourselves some competition. We all know what Microsoft is good at: competition. Of course, I can't mention Surface without mentioning the parody. As much as I want to hate it, it was pretty funny. Back to the topic at hand, I can't say I'm surprised to see competition starting to heat up. First on the scene was Rosie by Savant. Of course, taking a look at what Savant does, touchscreen devices, a Surface copycat was halfway done. Then again, they're a long way from meeting the capabilities Surface has. The biggest point of failure I see is that Rosie is just a big touchscreen computer. That's it. Surface is more than that. Specifically, Surface is all about integrating with devices placed on the table. As merely a touchscreen, Rosie doesn't have this. Rosie also seems to lack multi-touch capabilities, as far as I can tell. All this for a hefty $35,000 price tag, notably more than 3 times more than Surface's estimated price. Rosie's not the only other game in town, tho.
The other announcement comes from what is perhaps the most unlikely source, Northrup Grumman , a defense contractor. Then again, you may not be too stunned when you get to the bottom of its purpose. TouchTable has been around for quite a while. After the announcement of Surface, I believe Northrup Grumman is simply looking to monetize on their investment in a new market. The question of how this compares to Surface comes up. I don't have a lot of info on TouchTable, but from what I can tell, this isn't quite the experience people are probably wanting. If you look closely, you'll see the image is projected from above -- look at the man's arm. I'm sorry, but I'm not about to get a "table" I have to install an overhead projector for. Of course, what do you expect from a defense contractor?
All-in-all, I don't see either of these to be much competition, but it will be nice to see more out there. Microsoft isn't planning on releasing Surface to the consumer market initially, but plans have changed since the initial announcement. Because of the immense amount of interest -- I know I've seen requests upon requests pouring in on a daily basis -- Microsoft has decided to speed up the release schedule. I don't know any exact dates, but I'm expecting people to see them in a few hot spots, like casinos, in early 2008. My hopes are to see a cheaper consumer release by the end of 2008. That almost seems undoable, tho. I guess only time will tell... as usual.