Surface sales below 1.5 million - report

Microsoft's first attempt at hardware is performing well below expectations

Microsoft's Surface tablet has only sold around 1.5 million units to date: just over 1 million of the Surface RT model, and 400,000 Surface Pros.

According to a report on Bloomberg, which cites three unnamed sources, sales of the Surface's two models are significantly below expectations. Microsoft had ordered the production of 3 million Surface RTs alone, expecting it to sell 2 million units in Q4 last year.

The Surface RT launched in October 2012, with the Surface Pro following in February this year. The device is a bold attempt by Microsoft to take a piece of the burgeoning tablet market dominated by its great rival Apple, and offset the decline in PC shipments. However, if these figures are correct, the Surface still has a long way to go - Apple sold 22.9 million iPads in Q4 2012.

Indeed, Microsoft's Windows Phone OS is also suffering from poor perception among its key hardware partners. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal at the Galaxy S4 launch event yesterday, Samsung's newly appointed co-CEO, JK Shin, played down the company's partnership with Microsoft.

"Smartphones and tablets based on Microsoft's Windows operating system aren't selling very well," he said. "There is a preference in the market for Android. In Europe, we're also seeing lacklustre demand for Windows-based products."

In January, Samsung decided not to launch its line of Ativ tablets supporting Windows RT in the US and a number of European markets, citing a lack of demand and customer confusion.

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Latest comments (6)

Tom Keresztes Programmer 4 years ago
Next iteration will do better. Despite the Windows RT showing potential, it was surprising how it proven unusable (for me) in day-to-day tasks. Live tiles just did not work for me.
As a development platform, its great to use Visual Studio. Also, its a modern API, but its async nature and the fact that this API is not available on the desktop (and on any other platform) makes it a bit more difficult than necessary to develop for, not to mention the limitations it imposes.
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Adam Campbell Game Production Manager, Azoomee4 years ago
Poor. But when they announced 'Windows on ARM' I thought we were getting a flexible PC OS but simply optimised and compiled for ARM architecture - rather than a restricted one...

Other than that MS are competing with more established brands in tablet computing, more mature ecosystems and an industry moving towards 7'' tablets.

I think Surface has as much potential as Windows Phones do to shake up their respective market but they need to work on their next move with this and fast.
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Roberto Dillon Associate Professor, James Cook University4 years ago
Considering the high retail price, this is no surprise. I'd really like to get one but, really, the Surface (Pro) should be priced well below the iPad to have a chance of competing in such a market.
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Barrie Tingle Live Producer, Maxis4 years ago
I got a Surface Pro and a Widnows 7.5 Phone (will drop my iPhone 4S for Windows 8 Phone when the contract is up) and I have an iPad 2 as well.

The OS is, in my opinion, better and faster than the iPhone and iPad. The main sticking point for Windows mobile and tablets is the lack of apps and games in comparison to its competitors. Microsoft should focus its efforts on bringing developers to the platform and perhaps subsidising in some form to allow the devs to take a hit on sales differences that they would usually expect on iOS.
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John Bye Lead Designer, Future Games of London4 years ago
App support and pricing are definitely an issue, but I think the biggest problem may simply be that Microsoft don't know what to do with Surface themselves. They don't seem to be able to decide whether it's a design concept to inspire their hardware partners or an actual product intended to take on the iPad.

They splurged a huge amount of money on an all singing, all dancing (literally) TV advert for the Surface's launch, which is still in heavy rotation months later, but when it first came out the Surface was exclusive to Microsoft Stores, of which there are only a handful, almost all in the USA. So anyone who was excited about Surface when it was first released probably wasn't able to find one. Even today a lot of the big online and high street retailers don't stock them, in the UK at least. Your only options seem to be John Lewis, PC World, Microsoft's webstore or eBay. And because it's wi-fi only, none of the mobile networks sell them in their stores either, unlike the iPad and some Android tablets.

I'd be curious to know whether this is a sold in or sold through figure. Sell through rates have apparently been pretty low, and return rates high. Which doesn't bode well. I suspect the fact that it runs something that looks and feels like Windows 8 but doesn't run most Windows 8 software probably isn't helping there.
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Yiannis Koumoutzelis Founder & Creative Director, Neriad Games4 years ago
ios and android are mobile OS. windows8 RT is too, but not in the same sense. it is a lot more. the only thing that is missing is apps. microsoft designed an OS for the future. they do know after all, and much better than anyone, how you build and maintain a full fledged, no compromise OS that can cover pretty much any use case imaginable for years to come. and they did! for that i would like to thank apple for waking up a sleeping giant. the price is great for both RT and Pro. What you get for that price with RT, at the base price of iPad, is a device that allows you full control of your files and folders, ability to download store and use any mainstream file, awesome internet browsing, embedded MSOffice, expandable storage, and as much compatibility with the x86 applications you know and love as their developers will allow you to have! (it is not up to microsoft to make our favourite x86 software available on RT. they did their part by making it possible) A mobile PC (not a watered down wannabe) with nearly every option you know and love designed for Touch UI. If you put this on a 25% more powerful hardware, which soon that is what you will be running this on, and a lot more apps that are currently on the way, you will get the perfect mobile computing experience. What you get for Pro, at the same price as the most expensive iPad, is simply put a real PC, no bars held, light, full desktop capabilities, awesome connectivity, an open environment and the best software collection in the world. not only that, but also the ability to develop and distribute quality content on the go and create apps yourself, using the free, Visual astudio Express. So yeah, compare that with the 500 extra euros you pay just for having a few GB of extra space... when you can hook up on any device, a superfast hard drive of over 1TB for less than half that much, a closed OS with limited capabilities, and a multitube of mini apps Vs full fledged software! The only reason why we compare Surface with the iOS and android devices it is because they have a larger userbase. which is very important for sales. On every other level that really makes a difference, there is no comparison or at least they are even.
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