Microsoft Surface selling poorly, with the lack of availability being blamed

December 6, 2012

It looks as though the Surface RT hasn’t exactly taken off in the big, bad way Microsoft was hoping it would. Is it just poor distribution and the subsequent lack of availability that’s to blame? Or is there more to it than that?

Microsoft suggested it was looking to sell between three million and five million Surface tablets in Q4 2012. While Microsoft isn’t releasing any numbers, analysts are suggesting this figure is looking a tad optimistic. According to Detwiler Fenton (via AllThingsD), Microsoft is likely to sell between 500,000 and 600,000 Surface RT tablets in December, which is way under target.

In the research note attached to this prediction the brokerage firm states, “Lack of distribution is killing the product. Mixed reviews and a [$499] starting price tag certainly don’t help, but lack of retail exposure at Best Buy and others is severely depressing sales.” The reviews and starting price certainly aren’t helping, and the distribution is pretty lackluster.

In order to buy the Surface RT you have to either order one online or head to a Microsoft Store, if, that is, you’re lucky enough to have one in your area. Which most people are not. Unlike Apple, which has a retail presence in most big cities around the world. This lack of availability is certainly harming Microsoft’s chances of selling to the general public, but that isn’t the only problem with the Surface RT.

I don’t think it’s a bad product in its own right, but no device stands alone, instead having to compete with other devices of a similar nature. And this is why Microsoft is struggling, and probably will struggle for the foreseeable future. If you showed the Surface RT to someone who had never seen a tablet in their life then they’d snap your arm off to get hold of it. But show them the Surface RT as well as the latest iPad and a high-end Android tablet and I very much doubt whether they would choose to keep the Surface RT.

To be fair to Microsoft I don’t think we can fully judge the situation until the Surface Pro is released at the beginning of next year. It may turn out to be too expensive to compete for the mainstream consumer base, but at least we’ll have a Microsoft tablet offering the full Windows 8 tablet on the market. Which is a start.

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4 Responses to “Microsoft Surface selling poorly, with the lack of availability being blamed”

  1. Ben:

    I strongly disagree with the statement that someone wouldn’t choose a Surface RT over an iPad or Android tablet given equal exposure to each. I own an iPad, an Android tablet, and have spent considerable time playing with the Surface RT at my local retailer. The Surface is by far superior to any Android I have seen, and it is only challenged by the retina iPad.

    The problem is certainly not an inferior product. They have an outstanding product. But it is a first generation device that isn’t cheap. I, like most consumer’s, wouldn’t buy one without seeing one first.

    Microsoft needs to enlist the help of Best Buy or another major retailer.

  2. Peter T.:

    Other reports suggested that the target for MS was to sell about 3 million Surface RT in the first quarter. It seems that it will not even achieve that rather small target.

  3. ilev:

    $1000+ for a Surface Pro ? no way.

  4. Peter T.:

    and it weighs nearly a kilo!

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