Almost a year since Microsoft's Surface RT went on sale, the company remains frustratingly tight-lipped when it comes to breaking down sales figures of the tablet and its pricier Windows 8 Pro sibling. The $900m write-down on Surface inventory was a pretty damning indicator of sales performance, of course, and the latest drips of information from the U.K. sales channel also hint at weak sales in recent months.
The Channel - an offshoot of The Register - has tapped its sources "close to Microsoft" who shared details relating specifically to sales of the tablets through Microsoft's reseller partners in the United Kingdom. While Surface devices have been on sale at John Lewis department stores and a range of PC World stores across the country (as well as on PC World's website), Microsoft opened up its distribution channel in August to allow some of its reseller partners - including the likes of Misco, Kelway and Insight - to sell the tablets to a broader range of customers.
According to the sources, Microsoft allocated a total of just 2,000 Surfaces - around 1,500 RTs and 500 of the Pro model - to wholesalers Tech Data and Ingram Micro, who were tasked with distributing the devices to the first nine resellers. Since then, all 2,000 Surfaces have sold out, with some resellers reporting that they had actually received more orders than their supply could satisfy. However, the sources also said that "demand has not been overwhelming", suggesting that the total number of orders they received is unlikely to be much higher than that 2,000-unit figure.
It is important to underline the fact that these insights relate specifically to sales through the reseller network, and only since August, and do not take into account sales made through John Lewis and PC World, or Microsoft's website, in the U.K. since the RT launched there at the end of 2012, with the Pro going on sale in May.
But even if we charitably assume that a few thousand Surfaces were ordered through resellers during the last three months against the 2,000 units in stock, that still indicates weak overall interest in the tablets, especially given that the decision to open up sales to resellers was obviously intended to increase visibility and availability of the devices in an effort to stimulate sales.
Perhaps hinting at similarly weak demand in store-based sales, another of The Channel's sources claimed that Microsoft will focus less on chasing consumer sales in the U.K. for its next-generation Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 tablets, instead targeting business and education customers.
Source: The Channel | image via Microsoft