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Since the announcement of the new Microsoft Surface tablet back in June, there’s been much speculation as to the price-tag Microsoft will fix to their shiny new tablet. Will Microsoft wipe-the-floor with a $199 Surface?

In recent days, a price of $199 has been cropping up in blogs, forums and social media. Will Microsoft release their tablet at the same price point as the market-leader iPad? Or will Microsoft go in aggressively with a super-low price for their new (dare we say it) iPad-killer?

The idea of a $199 Microsoft Surface does sound very tempting, and we can see why Microsoft just might be considering such a move.

At around half the price of an iPad, a $199 Microsoft Surface would be significantly cheaper than a comparable Apple iPad – a very tempting proposition to anyone trading their old iPad in for something new, and the casual tablet buyer. A $199 Surface would also be perfectly priced to attract customers away from an Amazon Kindle, or Amazon Kindle Fire.

But is a $199 Surface workable?

It’s likely each Surface costs considerably more than $199 to design, manufacturer and market. So if it does sell for $199 it will have to be subsidised by Microsoft. The question is then whether MS are bold enough to take the risk? They certainly have the cash reserves, but do they have the confidence? Microsoft don’t have the best track record for product launches. Vista, Zune anyone?

A low price of $199 may not fit the brand-values Microsoft wishes to carve-out for it’s new tablet. The Apple iPad has always been a high-ticket, high-value brand and this might be what Microsoft wish to copy. A higher-price may actually sell more Surface tablets.

There’s also talk of Microsoft licensing tablet technology from Apple, a cost that must be factored in somewhere. Plus, do rules of price-penetration (setting a low price to gain market share) apply to the tablet market? There’s lots of low-priced tablets that have done little to stem the dominance of Apple iPad. Why will Microsoft Surface be any different?

Our take, is that it’s very unlikely the new Microsoft Surface tablet will be released at $199. Instead, our money is on a Microsoft Surface price nearer to the Apple iPad equivalent.

If Microsoft Surface does retail for around $199, we reckon Microsoft will bundle their Surface tablet with some sort of locked-in subscription service. Eg a data plan, music service etc.

The rumour-mill is pointing to a Microsoft Surface release date in October 2012. So we don’t have too long to wait.

What do you think? Is a $199 Microsoft Surface possible? If so, why? If not, what do you think the price will be? How much are you prepared to pay? And for our UK readers, even if the Surface is priced at $199, how much do you think that will be in £GBP?.

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