Surface RT a sales flop, Microsoft's tablet strategy 'in disarray'

Surface RT a sales flop, Microsoft's tablet strategy 'in disarray'The Surface tablet represents a gamble for Microsoft, no matter what anyone claims one way or the other. A brand new device, running an all-new OS, from a company with no history making tablets, in a market where historically only one company has been truly successful.

Microsoft, of course, will use all that to claim the pressure's off, but don't believe it. And if the latest estimate of sub-1m sales for the quarter prove to be accurate, don't expect it to be happy with the result.

Forbes is quoting US brokerage firm Detwiler Fenton as saying quarterly sales of the Surface RT are likely to total 500,000 to 600,000 – well below the 1m-2m estimates that were knocking about a month ago.

The company goes on to slate the Surface's price, distribution channels and general quality, and says Microsoft's tablet strategy is “in disarray”.

Harsh words indeed, but it seems to think Microsoft could have done a better job had it at least opened up the Surface to be sold through the likes of Best Buy (in the US). A fair point, although that wouldn't have changed the price and overall quality, which it also points to as being sub-par.

Microsoft will no doubt be able to save face by a) not actually revealing any hard sales figures, as it's done with Windows Phone, and b) claiming it's the Surface for Windows 8 Pro that's the real Apple of its eye as far as tablets go (so to speak).

Via BGR

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32 comments

barrybarryk  Dec. 5, 2012 at 19:07

I wasn't aware anyone thought the Surface hardware was sub-par, pretty much every review I read praised its build quality.

It's just that god awful toy version of Win 8 that's in need of a lot of refining

JanSt / MOD  Dec. 5, 2012 at 20:07

I wasn't aware anyone thought the Surface hardware was sub-par, pretty much every review I read praised its build quality.

It's just that god awful toy version of Win 8 that's in need of a lot of refining


True. I read a lot of negative stuff about the keyboard cover and its impracticality, But the built of the tab itself has been praised a lot.

Agree - price and sales channel aside, the OS is to blame. It's not as though tabs/pads are uber-vital gadgets. They are supposed to deliver instant gratification. Loadsa familiar apps and no learning curve. Win 8 has a learning curve. Win 8 RT, too; but it has none of the big advantages the Surface Pro will (hopefully) deliver...

There are literally hundreds of Android-based tabs, and only their combined sales come close to the iPad. Here's Win 8 RT. ONE device, a new OS nobody's quite familiar with, yet.

So: no surprise. Had they reskinned Win 7 and un-bloated it, they would've sold more. Or: they could've just focussed the resources on WP. Apple didn't start with the iPad. First get 10s of millions of people hooked on the phone and pod, then make it big... MS chose to take 18 months of phone flop, and then say: hey, and we can do it bigger still...

snipes66  Dec. 5, 2012 at 20:27

What a load of biased Rubbish.... is this article written by apple? as I write this comment from my extremely well made and designed surface, l am blown away by this tablet my only complaint is that it's store needs more quality apps , but they will come in time , it's early days for Microsoft hard ware and here in the UK the surface is only available from Microsoft web site but if my experience is anything to go by the surface future is very bright

barrybarryk  Dec. 5, 2012 at 20:46

I just don't get why they even bothered with an ARM version for the mass market, it pretty much removes the point of running Windows on a tablet. That said, I can see the Pro version and other x86 Win 8 tablets doing very, very well

Archduke Franz  Dec. 5, 2012 at 21:01

I tried to buy one today and the site crashed on me at the confirmation screen, mustn't have gone through as no email received. Didn't have time to mess around going through the process again. I wonder if that's a sign.

JanSt / MOD  Dec. 5, 2012 at 21:07

What a load of biased Rubbish.... is this article written by apple? as I write this comment from my extremely well made and designed surface, l am blown away by this tablet my only complaint is that it's store needs more quality apps , but they will come in time , it's early days for Microsoft hard ware and here in the UK the surface is only available from Microsoft web site but if my experience is anything to go by the surface future is very bright


You noticed the quotation marks around 'in disarray'? You noticed that the articles quotes Forbes and they, in turn' quote somebody else?

Can nothing on this planet be crap without Apple's fault?
Countless PC-friendly (PC as in Windows) sites have reviewed the Surface RT and criticised the handicapped OS. They generally praise the built, but say the RT version lacks the persuading element... Most importantly: re al i ty: the thing has not sold 5 million times in the first 3 days. It hasn't sold 5 million times by now. Will it have sold 5 million times by Dec 25? Who knows.

What else? Microsoft, so Martin, have kept shtum about sales figures for WP. That is a fact, too. They could have sold it in more usual places. That too is a fact. Sure, it's mean of Timmy boy to not sell the things in Apple's stores, but hey - he's a b*tch, right?! :p

And if you followed the link offered, you'd have read:

Detwiler adds that with improved hardware and distribution, as well as an aging laptop fleet in Western markets, demand for Windows 8 tablets should improve in the 2013 second half.

On Surface RT, Detwiler contends that a lack of distribution is killing the product. They add that mixed reviews and a $599 starting price tag doesn’t help, but assert that the bigger issue is that a lack of retail exposure at Best Buy and other retailer outlets is “severely depressing sales”


Now here's what rubs me the wrong way; while Martin provided a link to Forbes, Forbes fails to provide a link to the actual report! Booh, Apple, booh!

nickkelly  Dec. 5, 2012 at 21:09

Apparently the Surface RTs keyboard is prone to breaking.

I bet the Surface Pro will do just as badly with its ridiculously expensive pricing.

JanSt / MOD  Dec. 5, 2012 at 21:23

Apparently the Surface RTs keyboard is prone to breaking.

I bet the Surface Pro will do just as badly with its ridiculously expensive pricing.


Yes, personally I don't see it succeed. Starting at $899 (minus keyboard)? As mentioned: That is a Win notebook plus an iPad, or a decent laptop plus a cheap Android tab... or a Kindle plus... or or or...

Having said that: millllllllllions were laughing on Twitter and FB when the iPad was announced.

barrybarryk  Dec. 5, 2012 at 21:32

It's the same pricing bracket as pretty much every other ultrabook, certainly ones with a comparable build quality anyway. Personally I don't see it as overly expensive, but then again I'm looking for a new ultrabook early in the new year to replace my old lappy.

Pondlife  Dec. 5, 2012 at 22:09

What a load of biased Rubbish.... is this article written by apple? as I write this comment from my extremely well made and designed surface, l am blown away by this tablet my only complaint is that it's store needs more quality apps , but they will come in time , it's early days for Microsoft hard ware and here in the UK the surface is only available from Microsoft web site but if my experience is anything to go by the surface future is very bright


So I guess the random capitalisation and inability to use commas correctly is down to you not the Surface then?
Why are you sure the quality apps will come in time, if it doesn't sell better soon then RT may be as abandoned as wp7 was. It's down to MS that it's not available elsewhere..

Bobby121  Dec. 5, 2012 at 22:11

What a load of rubbish... Microsoft were ONLY expecting to sell a modest 2 million units (absolute max - google it)... as not to p!$$ the other OEMS off. It was deliberately released in limited quantities in Microsoft Stores and Online ONLY (exc China). It is not being sold in any major retail outlets/Stores... absolute limited distribution.... therefore it ONLY makes sense that they'd sell a limited number of units.

These paid shills need to use their brain once in a while...

barrybarryk  Dec. 5, 2012 at 22:20

Why are you sure the quality apps will come in time, if it doesn't sell better soon then RT may be as abandoned as wp7 was. It's down to MS that it's not available elsewhere..Because if the Surface RT doesn't sell well people are going to abandon Windows 8 and the Windows App Store?

Pondlife  Dec. 5, 2012 at 22:39

Why are you sure the quality apps will come in time, if it doesn't sell better soon then RT may be as abandoned as wp7 was. It's down to MS that it's not available elsewhere..Because if the Surface RT doesn't sell well people are going to abandon Windows 8 and the Windows App Store?

Are you saying all w8 apps have to be hindered be having to make them work on RT too?

barrybarryk  Dec. 5, 2012 at 22:48

there's no hindrance to it, the app framework (Windows Runtime or WinRT) is platform agnostic, it runs on both x86 and ARM, Developers don't need to do anything special to their source for it.

Well in theory anyway lol. Judging by Surface RT performance issues, there are still a few bugs to work out, it's not like they can blame the Tegra 3 hardware.

JanSt / MOD  Dec. 5, 2012 at 23:44

What a load of rubbish... Microsoft were ONLY expecting to sell a modest 2 million units (absolute max - google it)... as not to p!$$ the other OEMS off. It was deliberately released in limited quantities in Microsoft Stores and Online ONLY (exc China). It is not being sold in any major retail outlets/Stores... absolute limited distribution.... therefore it ONLY makes sense that they'd sell a limited number of units.

These paid shills need to use their brain once in a while...


That is actually true, you're right. But there is a crux: they p*ssed off the OEMs, anyway (just ask Acer) ... and the device disappointed many reviewers (maybe all shills, but we know MS are no strangers to shilling, right ? ;) Just research the MS-Gartner Vista debacle ) ...

So, at the moment it looks like the strategy backfired. Things like that happened before, not just to MS. Nokia designed the N91 as an experimental niche product while also flooding the media with ads and PR bits... Result: an expensive puzzling overpriced flop.

Similar, while we're at it: MS buying Skype... Puzzling at first, then infuriating as it never emerged on WP until recently. And quite possibly the reason for the network exclusives. The networks hate Skype, so MS may have p*ssed them off, and to get them to bite the new batch of WP, they may have had to agree to exclusive terms... Just a theory. Who knows.

Maybe the Surface Pro will succeed, but the mobile strategy overall IS in disarray. Even if just as a matter of perspective... This is the era of the 140 character soundbite and short term memory leakage.

Pondlife  Dec. 6, 2012 at 00:03

What a load of rubbish... Microsoft were ONLY expecting to sell a modest 2 million units (absolute max - google it)... as not to p!$$ the other OEMS off. It was deliberately released in limited quantities in Microsoft Stores and Online ONLY (exc China). It is not being sold in any major retail outlets/Stores... absolute limited distribution.... therefore it ONLY makes sense that they'd sell a limited number of units.

These paid shills need to use their brain once in a while...


And yet they aren't selling anywhere near that and are marketing it heavily! Doesn't add up really.

Besides I think if we had a quick discussion on any other RT tablets I could muster up that I think there is a Samsung ativ tablet (but I'm not really sure) and erm, erm...


Oh and anyone help with the skyrim and xbox controllers on win 8 tablets questions, I think all I achieved was confusing myself

sq999  Dec. 6, 2012 at 00:45

It's not for sale in shops, we can't actually see it and try it out, of course it's not selling.

SpeedyG  Dec. 6, 2012 at 00:50

What's going to be more infuriating is Microsoft won't admit it made a grave error trying to ape Apple launches in the past in which they sell early numbers of their i-Phone in limited numbers to ramp up demand.

Bobby121  Dec. 6, 2012 at 04:18

What a load of rubbish... Microsoft were ONLY expecting to sell a modest 2 million units (absolute max - google it)... as not to p!$$ the other OEMS off. It was deliberately released in limited quantities in Microsoft Stores and Online ONLY (exc China). It is not being sold in any major retail outlets/Stores... absolute limited distribution.... therefore it ONLY makes sense that they'd sell a limited number of units.

These paid shills need to use their brain once in a while...


And yet they aren't selling anywhere near that and are marketing it heavily! Doesn't add up really.

Besides I think if we had a quick discussion on any other RT tablets I could muster up that I think there is a Samsung ativ tablet (but I'm not really sure) and erm, erm...


Oh and anyone help with the skyrim and xbox controllers on win 8 tablets questions, I think all I achieved was confusing myself


IMHO...by the end of Dec I would expect them to have sold roughly around 1.5M units (conflicting reports - some analysts expect this)... They are also expected to increase distribution to major retail outlets in Jan for the RT ONLY and allow more OEMS to produce RT Hardware - (The OEMS that were initially denied the first time round (Nokia, HTC, etc).

But I think the greatest change will come when they release Windows 'Blue' - mid next year... in terms of bug fixes, features, apps, speed, system wide O/s & UI Refinement & superior Windows Phone & Windows 8 Synergy.

Bobby121  Dec. 6, 2012 at 04:35

What a load of rubbish... Microsoft were ONLY expecting to sell a modest 2 million units (absolute max - google it)... as not to p!$$ the other OEMS off. It was deliberately released in limited quantities in Microsoft Stores and Online ONLY (exc China). It is not being sold in any major retail outlets/Stores... absolute limited distribution.... therefore it ONLY makes sense that they'd sell a limited number of units.

These paid shills need to use their brain once in a while...


That is actually true, you're right. But there is a crux: they p*ssed off the OEMs, anyway (just ask Acer) ... and the device disappointed many reviewers (maybe all shills, but we know MS are no strangers to shilling, right ? ;) Just research the MS-Gartner Vista debacle ) ...

So, at the moment it looks like the strategy backfired. Things like that happened before, not just to MS. Nokia designed the N91 as an experimental niche product while also flooding the media with ads and PR bits... Result: an expensive puzzling overpriced flop.

Similar, while we're at it: MS buying Skype... Puzzling at first, then infuriating as it never emerged on WP until recently. And quite possibly the reason for the network exclusives. The networks hate Skype, so MS may have p*ssed them off, and to get them to bite the new batch of WP, they may have had to agree to exclusive terms... Just a theory. Who knows.

Maybe the Surface Pro will succeed, but the mobile strategy overall IS in disarray. Even if just as a matter of perspective... This is the era of the 140 character soundbite and short term memory leakage.


IMHO... it was worth 'slightly' p1$$ing the OEMs off for repeating what they did with Vista (selling old hardware with a new O/S - that is clearly not designed for). It should give them enough of a kick up the backside before the Windows 'Blue' update.

For Windows 8 to be successful experience... it really needs to be sold with the correct hardware accessories for non-touch systems:

Desktops - Touchpads (e.g. Logitech t650 or a touch mouse)
Laptop(s) - Large Multitouch Trackpads

Regarding Skype - I agree... it took a life-time for them to release it for Wp7.5 and a poor one at that. Initially Skype was meant to be deeply integrated in2 the O/S, but I think they back tracked on this a little and made it an optional download in the end.

What I really think will help the networks push the phones is when Surface RT matures -

Allows 3G/LTE/HSPA+
Greatly improves Synergy between tablet and Phone like no other.
Apps
Features
System wide O/S & UI refinement

Think about it... Why would you buy a Windows Phone 8 if you have a Windows 8 Tablet? (And vice-versa)

Cos they look the same? Microsoft should really think about that one.

JanSt / MOD  Dec. 6, 2012 at 07:05

Bobby,
Sure, the OEMs did need a kick up the collective butts.
Just compare the hardware of overpriced "ultrabooks" to, say a MacBook...
But the blame for Vista goes to MS. Fact. Google "Vista Microsoft Gartners"! ;)

As to the WP-Win8 similarities as an incentive to stay within the 'eco-system'...
I doubt that. Where WP is so simple it is often recommended to smartphone newbs or
'Older' buyers, Win 8 is genuinely confusing. So much so that I wonder if that is the eason why MS chose to keep the Surface out of real shops - so buyers cannot play with it and so shop assistants don't embarrass themselves? I've seen a few of them struggle showing of Win 8 laptops to customers ;)

corgi74  Dec. 6, 2012 at 08:22

[quote][quote]

But I think the greatest change will come when they release Windows 'Blue' - mid next year... in terms of bug fixes, features, apps, speed, system wide O/s & UI Refinement & superior Windows Phone & Windows 8 Synergy.


How many times do we have to put up with 'the next version will be the one' from Microsoft?
'Sorry the software we released 6 weeks ago is flawed but just you wait till next year's version!!!'

Pondlife  Dec. 6, 2012 at 10:42

If it was meeting your figures why wouldn't they be putting out figures or saying it's meeting expectations and we'll be running out soon.
I don't see any new oems being in a hurry to make rt tablets.
Well it's nice for the handful of people with windows phone 8 that it will get closer links to the os but it's hardly compelling reason to buy either.
Tbh though don't ms encourage oems to use old hardware with new os as the drivers will all be in place, fairly sure they could refuse to supply the os for low specced hardware if they really wanted to. Just like they initially restricted netbooks to a pared down version. Vista on release just wasn't capable of running well on the hardware ms said it should.

Stelph  Dec. 6, 2012 at 11:23

If anything I think the Surface suffers from the "windows" name, its quite a nice little tablet from what ive seen and the OS is pretty solid, however the fact that its Windows means it gets slated all the time for all the things it "doesnt" do rather than what it does, which is be a much better OS than iOS and Android on a tablet. Plus as mentioned the fact that it was such a limited release that only the techno-aware knows about (and those techno-aware know to wait for the full x86 tablets that are round the corner) means im not surprised the sales arent amazing

Also the less said about the dancing surface advert the better

JanSt / MOD  Dec. 6, 2012 at 12:05

There are now more posts in this threads than Surface RT tabs sold :p Take that, M$ ;)

Sorry.

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