There has been a lot of back slapping and congratulations being passed out to Microsoft over this video. Yes, it is good that they have made a device that can be repaired by just about anyone with a screw driver and parts on hand. It looks pretty easy to do as well. This is what I expected but I still have concerns and questions.
Where do you get them? Right now I bet the only company making these parts is Microsoft. This isn’t great. When there is no competition for certain parts, the people that actually sell said parts can sell them for whatever they want. Here are my predictions of what these parts will sell for (I hope I’m wrong by the way):
- Keyboard & trackpad – $120 USD
- Screen with lid – $120
- Battery – $80
I’m not going to go further than that. Remember that Microsoft is going to sell this starting at $250. If the prices are even close to this, then repairing should be an after thought for schools that purchase them, or maybe a device is good for one repair and then call it quits. It would be easier just to buy a new device altogether if that is the case.
In the video you see the technician remove the keyboard. Can you also separate the trackpad away from the keyboard? That would be very good for repairs. A trackpad is a lot cheaper if you can purchase just that part as opposed to replacing the entire keyboard assembly along with the trackpad. This is also true the other way too. Maybe the trackpad works wonderfully and you only need a new keyboard – can you purchase just that part?
Then there is the screen. Do you have to purchase the entire lid to replace the screen? The difference in price here can be pretty significant. A screen for a device like this should cost around $50 (give or take where you buy it from and the demand on the market). If you have to put the entire lid to replace the screen, then you are also replacing the following components:
- Coaxial cables for the WiFi antenna
This stuff starts to add up and a school could easily be looking at $100+ for that part.
I know I sound like Ebenezer Scrooge a week before Christmas, but these are concerns I have. I want the Surface SE to work, I do. Right now I think Chromebooks dominate without much competition out there, but I am afraid that Microsoft will inadvertently shoot themselves in the foot by making the parts unnecessarily expensive and difficult to get. Time will tell and despite the tone of this article I am optimistic, but I am also keenly aware that companies like money.