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Microsoft Surface not touching many consumers

12/19/2012

Microsoft’s Surface tablet launched in October with a highly visible ad campaign that definitely reached consumers, due in no small part to being one of Oprah’s “favorite things.” But even with the one single, repeated TV spot and a recognizable name, how’s the Surface actually doing in sales? Turns out it hasn’t been that great, and there’s a very easy answer why.                

On launch, Surface with Windows RT (the tablet-specific version of Windows 8 starting at $499) was only available directly through Microsoft’s website or its dedicated “Microsoft Stores,” which are few and far between. Basically, if you wanted one, you were going to buy it sight unseen, as you probably have no way of getting your hands on it to make your decision. The limited release could explain why Detwiler Fenton, a Boston-based brokerage firm, expects Microsoft to only sell about a half-million units in its first quarter, which includes December. That should be changing soon, as Microsoft is now heading to third-party retailers to find consumers, hopefully to gain traction with holiday sales and reach its goal of one to two million units this quarter.             

Everyone still holding out or deciding on a Surface should note: October’s “Surface with Windows RT” is separate from “Surface Pro with Windows 8.” Surface Pro will be on sale in early 2013 and will start at $899 and have traditional desktop Windows functionality. Add more to the price for more storage, a keyboard cover and more accessories. A Microsoft executive was quoted on Twitter saying the Surface Pro’s battery life will be “half of the Surface,” putting it somewhere in the four-hour range. Definitely know what you’re getting yourself into if you decide to shell out laptop range cash for a tablet that may not run as long as a laptop. CV

Robert Anhalt is Director of Content at Geek Speak Forum and contributes to Cityview.

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