December 12, 2012
Microsoft Expands Surface Sales To Best Buy And Staples
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
It´s been interesting to watch Microsoft handle being a hardware producer for the past several weeks. Their Surface with Windows RT is their first attempt at taking Apple´s approach to products, holding on tightly to both software and hardware. When it was first announced this summer, Microsoft revealed as little about the tablet as possible; no price, no shipping dates. The journalists they invited to the event weren´t even allowed to touch the thing.
As the launch day got closer, Microsoft released a commercial for the tablet, opting to highlight groups of dancing youngsters rather than show the tablet in use. When pre-orders for these tablets became available, Microsoft proudly announced customers had burned through pre-order stock within a week.
They didn´t announce how many they had in pre-order stock, of course.
This ambiguity in the numbers became even more apparent when, two weeks after the official launch date, CEO Steve Ballmer said sales of these tablets were off to a “modest” start.
In order to boost these “modest” sales, Microsoft announced yesterday it would be expanding the Surface´s retail presence, making the tablet available in more locations.
Though Microsoft didn´t specifically mention which stores would be carrying the Microsoft Surface with Windows RT tablets, Staples later said in a statement they´d begin selling the device in their stores and online.
Best Buy also said yesterday they´d begin selling the tablet. Today, Cnet is reporting that customers can already pick up their Surface with Windows RT tablets online today at 2 PM Pacific Standard Time, while retail stores should begin seeing these devices this Sunday, December 16.
Microsoft was also sure to mention that customers can still buy these tablets in their stores. They also mentioned there will be more permanent Microsoft retail locations in the future.
The original plan was to sell the Surface with Windows RT in Microsoft´s stores alone, both in their standalone locations and online. The company had planned to offer their tablets in retail locations in early 2013, but have now decided to move ahead in this plan.
“The public reaction to Surface has been exciting to see," said Panos Panay, the general manager of the Surface with Windows RT, in a statement.
"We've increased production and are expanding the ways in which customers can interact with, experience and purchase Surface."
With Microsoft not releasing solid numbers and speaking only in vague terms, it´s hard to tell if this is a move to meet demand or a move to get the Surface in front of more eyeballs. According to brokerage firm Detweiler Fenton, Microsoft has sold as many as 600,000 of the tablets to date. IHS iSuppli has been bullish on the sales of Surface with Windows RT sales, saying Microsoft could sell more than 1 million in the fourth quarter alone.
"We see estimated sales of 1.3 million,” said Rhoda Alexander, one of iSuppli´s analysts who spoke with Cnet.
"I would be surprised to see it much above that.”
Microsoft will also begin selling a powerful tablet, the Microsoft Surface with Windows 8 Pro, beginning next month. This professional tablet starts at $899.