©IDG Communications, Inc. Photo contributed by Matthew Mikaelian.
The Surface was supposed to be Microsoft’s real answer to the iPad — a Windows-based tablet that would satisfy both casual users and digital workers. Now it looks like it’s appealing to neither.
UBS analyst Brent Thill estimates Microsoft has sold only 1 million Surface RT tablets,reported by Business Insider. He had previously estimated 2 million. To put those figures in perspective, Apple is estimated to sell in the neighborhood of 20 million iPads for the same period.
This is far from the first sign that the Surface isn’t doing very well. A month ago, brokerage firm Detwiler Fenton said Microsoft wouldn’t even break a million units, estimating sales for the quarter at 600,000 units maximum. However, that was before Microsoft expanded retail distribution of the Surface early, which likely led to better numbers.
In addition, last week Samsung said it was pulling back plans to release its own tablet based on Windows RT — the same operating system running on the Surface — citing customer ignorance about the pared-down version of Windows made to run on ARM-based devices. Cost was also a factor.
“We didn’t necessarily attain the price point that we hoped to attain,” Samsung senior vice president Mike Abary told CNET.
Looking at web usage, a study conducted by Chikita Insights just before the holidays found the Microsoft Surface accounted for just 0.22 ad impressions for every 100 impressions from an iPad. Finally, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said in an interview last November that sales were “modest” (although Microsoft later said Ballmer was talking about supply and distribution of the Surface, not sales).
If the Surface RT is doing poorly, Microsoft’s hopes in the tablet space could be resurrected by the Surface Pro, a slightly larger version of the device that runs Windows 8 Pro. Microsoft has previously said the Pro version would launch three months after the Surface RT, or about the end of January.
Why do you think the Surface is struggling, and do you think the Surface Pro will turn things around? Let us know in the comments.
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