Over the last few days Microsoft has been showing off a prototype cover for its Surface devices which contains an embedded touchscreen. The DisplayCover embeds a second screen in the space between the keyboard and hinge of a Type Cover add-on.
Its good to see that Microsoft has been thinking about how it can make use of the technology which it has pioneered. The concept of a proprietary port on the Surface which offers the opportunity to do all sorts of clever things hasn't really been expended upon by Microsoft, other that the half-hearted discussion around a keyboard for music mixing and the 'now you see it, now you don't' appearance of the battery cover for the original Surface form factor.
Microsoft needs to look at the potential it has for the use of this port and either create a 'Designed for Surface' approval program that allows third parties to build add-ons that use it, or take a risk on putting together some accessories itself.
For example we know the port supports bi-directional supply of power as well as providing an input and output communications channel, so what's to stop someone from creating a battery sleeve for Surface devices that provides extended use capability? Or a keyboard cover with a notification screen that faces out when the cover is closed?
There's an opportunity here that Microsoft should grab, whether that by building the add-ons themselves or partnering with third parties to do so.
Accessories drive sales, as the iPhone and iPad have demonstrated. Its not an Apple thing, or even a technology thing. Both the Mini and Golf thrived in their respective heydays as much through the ready availability of custom accessories as anything else.
Microsoft has some momentum behind the Surface, now would be the time to back its device to grow it even further.