NPD claims Office 2010 retail sales have so far been "disappointing"

Early figures from analytics group NPD released today suggest Office 2010 sales have been "a bit disappointing" since it was made available to consumers two weeks ago.

According to NPD figures, sales have been below that of the first two weeks of Office 2007's launch, with suggestions the new release faces a much more "saturated market" that has been forced into upgrading at a "very high rate" in recent times.

"Selling such a heavily used product into a base that has already been upgrading at a very high rate is an enormous challenge," Stephen Baker, the Vice President for NPD Industry Analysis wrote today on the company blog.

"While Office 2010 has many compelling new features, it is always an uphill battle to sell a high installed base product based on new features alone."

NPD also suggests the launch time of Office 2010, during the Summer -- the quietest technology season of the year-- could also be a contributing factor to the poor results, given Office 2007 was launched in the much more busy holiday shopping season. 

There is some good news though for Microsoft, with the new Office 2010 key card, which allows users buying a new computer to activate the copy of Office pre-installed for a cheaper price, performing strongly, accounting for around one-third of all copies of 2010 purchased so far. And while sales have been below that of the first two weeks of Office 2007, they are, says NPD, "in line, and in fact slightly ahead of, sales trends of Office 2007 so far this year."

But in a blow to cloud-based office suites such as Google Docs and Zoho, NPD says the impact these are having on Office 2010 sales is minimal, with most consumers still unaware of their existence.

"These products have little awareness among the mainstream consumer who is the retail boxed version’s primary customer," Baker explained, noting that eventually, and "over time" some slowdown in sales may occur.

"Mainstream consumers have not embraced the concept of the cloud, nor are they likely in the short to mid-term, making most of the questions around free software moot."

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