Winning in transition: developing a new Windows tablet to meet demand

The choice when faced with an emerging product category such as tablet computing is not if you enter the market, but simply how you choose your offering, says Dave Ayling of CMS Computers

By Guest on 17 February 2015
Winning in transition: developing a new Windows tablet to meet demand

This article was first published in the Winter 2014 issue of OnWindows

Prior to the 2014 holiday season, we had seen the resurgence of Windows 8.1, a massive entry into ARM’s market space by Intel and consolidation of manufacturers in the Android market space. All of these interested parties had been beating a path to retailers’ doors pressing their agenda. This meant that planning for all but the biggest category purchases is extremely difficult.

So when Asda, a UK grocer and part of the Walmart Group, wanted to work on a Black Friday tablet deal with the Microsoft UK Retail team, it was a channel partner that was in the best position to deliver the required product.

CMS Computers is a local original equipment manufacturer dedicated to supplying the channel in the UK and, given its position in the global supply chain, was best placed to fulfil this opportunity. CMS also has a proven track record delivering Windows projects into retail. In fact, it has supplied tens of thousands of units to Argos and Virgin Media for seasonal offers.

When we were approached by Microsoft to tender a solution for this evident gap in the holiday line-up, it was June and we were at the Computex Taipei tradeshow. Our tablet PC model was still at design verification test stage, the supply chain was not in place and there were no commercials agreed.

As soon as the whole team was back in the UK, work began on the commercial proposition with Asda, dealing not only with the commercials of the product but also fast tracking the supplier relationship between us. In parallel, the supply chain, technical, marketing and customer services functions needed to bring a product together.

A new contract manufacturer needed verifying, a brand need to be created and trademarked, the product needed progressing to product verification test stage, and the software layer had to be localised and tested. The long and short of it was that packaging, point of sale and placement were all fast tracked, and a Black Friday deal was born.

The result of this exercise was the production of 10,000 units of the Zoostorm SL8, a 7.5-inch Windows 8.1 tablet that came with a one-year subscription to Office 365 Personal, which was rolled out across stores nationwide in time for the Black Friday weekend.

For Asda, it had seen a gap in the market and was able to fill it at a stock commitment level it was comfortable with by using a channel partner to win in market transition. For Microsoft, it was the opportunity to bring Windows into a market space previously dominated by Android and prove the desire for Windows is still strong.

Dave Ayling is commercial manager at CMS Computers

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