Flopping? Microsoft’s Surface has sold just 1.5m units since launch

Allan Swann
March 15, 2013

Microsoft has an uphill battle to get into the tablet space, after new reports suggested the company has sold just 1.5m units since its October launch.

Bloomberg is reporting that the company has sold just 1 million Surface tablets (running the ARM-based Windows 8 variant, RT) and 400,000 of the Surface Pro version (the Intel version running Windows 8) which launched in February.

By comparison,  Apple sold 22.9 million iPads in the quarter that ended in December. Worldwide tablet shipments reached 128.3 million units in 2012, according to IDC. To make matter worse, it appears that the Surface Pro is cannibalising sales from the Surface – without expanding Microsoft’s market share overall.

Much of the device’s problems stem from Windows 8/RT, which has not been greeted happily by consumers, or app developers. What Mobile’s review of the Surface noted a host of problems with the platform. The battery life of the Surface Pro is also another problem – it lasts for little more than 4-5 hours. It also costs nearly £700 (see story here). Apple and Samsung’s tablet ranges last for 10-12 hours, and start at around £400.

The availability of apps is another problem,while the Surface Pro runs the full Windows 8 operating system (and can thus run most Windows compatible programs) the Surface running Windows RT is incompatible, and only runs apps and programs from Microsoft’s app store. The limited offering there (around 50,000 apps, and most of them junk) simply does not compare to Apple’s 300,000 iPad apps (the iPad can also run iPhone apps blown up, so potentially 1 million apps).

Microsoft also annoyed most of its partners by launching its own hardware, and to ameliorate their concerns released the product only in its own stores and online – limiting its reach, and the potential for customers to interact with it.

IDC estimates that 2013 will see some 190 million tablets shipped – the market is booming, but Microsoft can’t seem to get on board.

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