Surface “killing” blamed on lack of distribution

The general reaction to the Microsoft Surface is that people are quite taken with the device. There’s no denying it’s a good looking piece of tablet. But outside of a Microsoft store or their online store, has anyone actually seen a Surface on the shelves?

The answer is no; for the foreseeable future, Surface is only available in Microsoft stores. And with these stores being few in number, the lack of consumer facing devices is hurting sales. Detwiler Fenton is a Boston-based brokerage firm that performed research on the device.

Lack of distribution is killing the product. Mixed reviews and a [$499] starting price tag certainly don’t help, but lack of retail exposure at Best Buy and others is severely depressing sales.

Have they a point? There are many people who will see the billboards and advertising for the Surface and think “wouldn’t mind seeing it and trying it,” but will they ever get the chance if Microsoft continues to only stock the device in their own stores? And once they actually see the device, would they be prepared to pay $499 for the device when there are dozens upon dozens of Android tablets undercutting Microsoft’s Surface pricing. And that’s even before we mention the different iPads available.

While sales figures haven’t been properly clarified, Microsoft claims their approach to selling and distributing the device is modest. Having said that, different analysts are sounding out different sales figures for Q4 and the holiday season; some say 1.3 million units, with Detwiler Fenton saying that they will only shift 500,000 to 600,000 units.

Either way, will Microsoft be prepared to change its original strategy and only offer the Surface in their stores, or will the soon to be released $899 Surface Pro force their hand and shift to offering the device on the High Street? Only time will tell.

Source: AllThingsD

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I'm pretty sure Microsoft has perhaps said or indicated the Surface was only meant to be a device that raises the bar for their OEMs and was never purposely made to be a high-selling "it" device. If there was a sales success, awesome. If not, then it's reasonable considering Microsoft's goal with putting the Surface out on the market.

The only reason they'd limit their retail availability is not hit their OEMs too hard, who may switch their tablet strategies completely towards Android and hurt the concept of Windows RT or even Windows 8 being available on tablets. If they are considering making availability in telecom carrier/electronic stores, then perhaps they want to raise the stakes and profile of the Surface if their partner OEMs are not pushing hard enough.

I've seen way more marketing for Surface than any other Windows tablet out there (on TV, on the web through ads, in person, in someone else's hands, etc.) than I can say for any other Windows 8 tablet out there. I've only seen another Windows tablet, an Acer, in the hands of a friend the other day who likes it as well.

I find it ridiculous that people equivalate Surface sales with a) Windows 8 adoption, b) Microsoft's ability to sell things, c) performance with past products that died (Kin, Zune), etc.

Since the ultimate goal is not oriented towards sales, people shouldn't be looking way too deep into it. Other Surface related news is way more relevant than sales figures.

Maybe not being able to easily compare other tablets (like iPad or an Android tablet) alongside the surface is working in favour of Microsoft?

I saw a girl on my university campus with it. I spotted it immeadiately and asked her about it. Apparently she saw an ad for it, thought it was really cool, and asked if her parents could get her one (maybe for her birthday) and actually go it with the touch keyboard and all. She seemed pretty happy with it and only had minor qualms. Although she wasn't aware that one of her qualms, the lack of the ability to run more desktop apps, would be avoided if she had waited for the Surface Pro. She replied she wish she had known, and would have waited for that instead.

I also have seen a Microsoft marketing contractor try to engage people with the new Windows 8 on my campus, and they offer free Windows hats, sunglasses, and tote bags if you fill out a survey regarding perceptions about Windows 8, and the Microsoft/Windows brand. They also demoed a Surface unit as well as an Acer laptop.

I think if Microsoft keeps it up, they will gain the traction to make the device a success.

derekaw said,
I agree, more free hats, sunglasses and tote bags will see Windows 8 be a success.

Yes troll. That's exactly what I said.

Another example why we still need stores for product exposure. If everything goes internet distribution, it is a crap shoot, and you have to rely on others who have the product to make an informed decision rather it be wise or bad.

1. We don't know how many Surfaces have been produced
2. We don't know how many Surfaces were sold
3. We don't know internal projections

That said, Microsoft will begin selling the Surface through at least Best Buy and Staples very soon. Just a heads up.

Surface sales aren't all that bad when you divide them with the amount of store they are sold at. In this comparison it might even score better then the iPad.

Of course that is not a fair comparison and Microsoft is to blame for not providing more Retail points for the Surface. You can hardly get one in the USA and worldwide it might as well not exist. They've put so much work into it, its the flagship of the new Windows experience yet most people are unaware it exists.

I hope Microsoft realizes this half-baked strategy is only hurting them. Surface is a flagship and without it they can't share their own vision with the general public. On top of that the slow sales is being called a commercial failure within tech communities. It is part of the 'Windows 8 will fail' bandwagon. Subtle changes like this can have huge consequences in the long-term.

"And once they actually see the device, would they be prepared to pay $499 for the device when there are dozens upon dozens of Android tablets undercutting Microsoft's Surface pricing. And that's even before we mention the different iPads available"

first
1) android has been undercutting everybody and going nowhere. the tablet market has all but ruled android out except in the mini 199 kindle version. Surface and the full ipad and to a great extend the mini stand head and shoulders above such android toys which totally lack any advantages (eco system on apple, and desktop/usb/office with surface).

2) ipad remains the most expensive by far. surface is cheaper to the storage and has full office in addition to compatibility with most USB gear. typecover is revolutionary and makes the ipad a joke.

3) surface isn't intended to kill OEMs. it is a reference device. this is why MSFT released it in limited quantities. they KNEW this. They themselves don't want surface to kill OEMs because that would kill them instead by pushing them all to android, which although a mess, it has been getting better.

I went into PC World to have a go last week when i was out xmas shopping, if i liked it contemplated picking it up.. they were no where to be found, lost my custom, oh well.. walked into the apple store round the corner n picked up an ipad mini... i wonder how many other people walked in to check it out, then walked out with a completely different tablet.

Uplift said,

I went into PC World to have a go last week when i was out xmas shopping, if i liked it contemplated picking it up.. they were no where to be found, lost my custom, oh well.. walked into the apple store round the corner n picked up an ipad mini...


Such a shame you ended up with an inferior obsolete device, instead of a Surface RT device.

DJGM said,

Such a shame you ended up with an inferior obsolete device, instead of a Surface RT device.

Yeah because i can walk out of a shop with Surface RT and within 5 minutes i can be making music (FL Studio) playing awesome games (Vice City), access my entire music library effortlessly (iTunes Match).. i could go on, point: lack of awesome apps.

besides, it's Microsoft's fault i've got another device

Klownicle said,
I forget where but wasn't it already mentioned retail availability in major outlets was coming first quarter 2013?

I got it out of a ATT employee that ATT would be selling the Surface in the stores. I have no way of confirming that but that is what he told me.

JF

My mum seriously wants a Surface, she likes the form-factor and she loves Windows 8, but being nearly 70 and her shares not packing the punch they once did she wants to have a go on one before she lays down hard cash.
We live in the UK, where there are no Microsoft Stores (probably coming in 2013, even more probable that they'll be in London only - not so much use to us in Liverpool) so I can't see her buying one any time soon

Maybe it's just their way of keeping the OEMs happy... If the Surface was available everywhere would people choose the similar OEM devices instead?

There's simply not enough MS store around. Nobody gonna drive from Québec to Toronto to buy a Surface.

They are doing the same mistake they did with the Zune.

I think they are just rolling them out slowly, Windows 8 has arrived but there is a lot of pieces that are still arriving, like Xbox Music fixes, lack of apps etc etc. They are available now so that the early adopters can get their hands on them and the stability and bug fixes can get rolled out. The commercials are playing to build interest in the product. At some point they will drop more onto the market.

I think a real problem that I have is that I have not heard ANY plans for new stores on top of the 75 or 80 they are now opening. It is important to get the entire computer buying experience out of the hands of the Best Buys of the world, and into the end to end Microsoft experience.

The poor consumer that doesn't realize Windows 8 is not "supposed" to come with a Norton Product that tried to reinstall itself with every new User Account created even though it was removed the first time. Etc. Etc.

Bad execution for a release by many involved, but Win 8 was not 100% ready yet anyway, it was either wait or get it out the door in time for Holidays. I'm glad they shoved it out the door, because it is mostly ready. And I have been stunned at how many regular folks (not techies) I have talked to that love it.

I think Microsoft failed or has a very serious chance to fail with this because of the price ,
you can not start out in 3rd place with such a high price if you want to sell these things .

I know hardware is serious bump up from ipads but still if I ask my family do they want an ipad of a $900 surface they laugh and pick the ipad.

TurboShrimp said,
I think Microsoft failed or has a very serious chance to fail with this because of the price ,
you can not start out in 3rd place with such a high price if you want to sell these things .

I know hardware is serious bump up from ipads but still if I ask my family do they want an ipad of a $900 surface they laugh and pick the ipad.

That's the price for the Pro model, which isn't released.

This article is reference the Surface with Windows RT, which is far less expensive.


BTW you folks do realize that MS has already specifically said that this device is just being put out to set the bar for OEMs right?

They didn't want any lazy designs out there, so they put out their own high-quality kit in order to force them to be innovative and provide something that at least matches their quality.

They are getting tired of the same crap coming out with hardly any change. A lot of why MS gets based so hard on the innovation front is that the hardware is uninspired.

TurboShrimp said,
I think Microsoft failed or has a very serious chance to fail with this because of the price ,
you can not start out in 3rd place with such a high price if you want to sell these things .

I know hardware is serious bump up from ipads but still if I ask my family do they want an ipad of a $900 surface they laugh and pick the ipad.

Yay. More ignornance being spread! I'm quite sure you're family is not aware it has actual full capabilities of Windows 8 in a thinner/portable form factor and other hardware areas it has the iPad beat, or otherwise, I'd really doubt they'd "laugh".

Had to drive 20 miles to put my hands on one. Would not have bought it sight unseen.

An 8 yr old could come to same conclusion as the "analysts" on this one.

Cyborg_X said,
An 8 yr old could come to same conclusion as the "analysts" on this one.

Yet Microsoft couldn't. Unless they enjoy shooting themselves in the foot of course and done this deliberately.

Not yet available in Malaysia...not sure if Microsoft will sell Surface here or not...damn...Surface surely has potential to become popular among students given Microsoft priced it right and make it available at local retail stores

Zune all over again. They'll market the crap out of it and make people interested all the while it's hardly available. Then they stop marketing it and no one cares about it and they make it more widely available. Just wonder how serious they are about it. I'd have had MILLIONS in as many stores as possible and at a lower price. Yes, they'd have to eat the cost but that exposure, low price and all would have gone over much better.

I want one but I have to travel about 50 miles to the nearest MS store. I'm not buying it online because I want to touch/feel it.

The way they do things sometimes is truly boggling.

with the first wave of devices they just don't want to make their oems angry. thats it!

the message here: we are coming so better pimp up your products as we are broadening our distribution soon.

seems to be a fair approach imho

The reason is because they are trying to enter a new market, one that is already saturated, and retailers are scared that there aren't many people left who want a tablet at a premium price point, who don't or already have one. They know that not everyone wants an Apple, but this niche is already filled by Android. They bought into Playbook and Touchpad, and got burnt when they couldn't make the return they were promised, and can't see how Surface would be any different.

Isn't the Surface headed to Verizon for sale in their stores ? Thought I read that here couple weeks back ? If so distribution should improve.

MS needs to open more stores.

ryoohki said,
They seem not to have learn from the zune.. It had a very crappy distribution around the world...

Microsoft want to put the brand out there than anything, they don't want to **** off their partners because they could very easily on sell to distribution channels. In January they will be opening up so we will see how it goes!

Microsoft needs to learn there is a world outside of the US/Europe. There are people in the Caribbean/South America who've seen the comercials, youtube reviews and really want one (non technical people at that) . It not being on Amazon or other online retailers is not helping these potential customers. These people will eventually say top hell with it and buy a galaxy Tab or an iPad for Christmas. Learn Microsoft, learn!

Sadelwo said,
Microsoft needs to learn there is a world outside of the US/Europe.

What other tech world exists outside of the US and Europe???
Sadelwo said,

There are people in the Caribbean/South America

They dont give a **** about technology. They care about getting out of being poor...

Whats next? You are going to complain about Africa? Be realistic....

pes2013 said,

What other tech world exists outside of the US and Europe???

Japan? Korea? Taiwan? Hong-Kong? Malaysia+Singapore? Australia+NZ? Russia? South Africa?
And out of the billions of Indians, Chinese and Brasilians, there are enough people with sufficiently deep pockets to constitute a market for high-tech products.

If Microsoft is going to be serious about selling these, they need to get them into stores like Best Buy. My local Best Buy has a Windows 8 booth set up near the mobile department, it took them until this week to finally start placing Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 device on it. The Surface should have been one of those items on there weeks ago as in Black Friday. Yes there are 2-3 weeks left in the Holiday Retail shopping spree, but it also started weeks ago

wv@gt said,
If Microsoft is going to be serious about selling these, they need to get them into stores like Best Buy. My local Best Buy has a Windows 8 booth set up near the mobile department, it took them until this week to finally start placing Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 device on it. The Surface should have been one of those items on there weeks ago as in Black Friday. Yes there are 2-3 weeks left in the Holiday Retail shopping spree, but it also started weeks ago

Microsoft want to put the brand out there than anything, they don't want to **** off their partners because they could very easily on sell to distribution channels. In January they will be opening up so we will see how it goes!

pantera9 said,
If they make it available in Norway, I'll buy one immediatly. Actually, I'd buy several.

Me too! I need something cheap to pave my bathroom.

Here is why I haven't bought a Surface - It is not available at local retail channels. In my case, specifically, Future Shop. Why do I want to buy it from Future Shop when I could more easily buy it online? Because I have gift cards for Future Shop. If the Surface was available there, I would have bought it immediately using my gift cards to cover part of the cost.

That said, with zero exposure in some large markets (such as Montreal), and with many retail employees unaware that the Surface exists (as my friend encountered at - none other than - Future Shop) then it really has no hope in breaking in.

There are other nice Windows RT and Windows 8 tablets out there but lack of marketing, combined with the pitiful training and product knowledge of retail employees, may doom them as well.

As for me, I only want Surface for my Win tablet. It has the build quality, it has the touch cover, it has a compelling price (with or without my gift cards; I simply can't afford it outright at the moment).

And... First!

deck said,
Here is why I haven't bought a Surface - It is not available at local retail channels. In my case, specifically, Future Shop. Why do I want to buy it from Future Shop when I could more easily buy it online? Because I have gift cards for Future Shop. If the Surface was available there, I would have bought it immediately using my gift cards to cover part of the cost.

That said, with zero exposure in some large markets (such as Montreal), and with many retail employees unaware that the Surface exists (as my friend encountered at - none other than - Future Shop) then it really has no hope in breaking in.

There are other nice Windows RT and Windows 8 tablets out there but lack of marketing, combined with the pitiful training and product knowledge of retail employees, may doom them as well.

As for me, I only want Surface for my Win tablet. It has the build quality, it has the touch cover, it has a compelling price (with or without my gift cards; I simply can't afford it outright at the moment).

And... First!

Sorry to ruin the fun but you actually aren't first...

deck said,
Here is why I haven't bought a Surface - It is not available at local retail channels. In my case, specifically, Future Shop. Why do I want to buy it from Future Shop when I could more easily buy it online? Because I have gift cards for Future Shop. If the Surface was available there, I would have bought it immediately using my gift cards to cover part of the cost.

That said, with zero exposure in some large markets (such as Montreal), and with many retail employees unaware that the Surface exists (as my friend encountered at - none other than - Future Shop) then it really has no hope in breaking in.

There are other nice Windows RT and Windows 8 tablets out there but lack of marketing, combined with the pitiful training and product knowledge of retail employees, may doom them as well.

As for me, I only want Surface for my Win tablet. It has the build quality, it has the touch cover, it has a compelling price (with or without my gift cards; I simply can't afford it outright at the moment).

And... First!

I was able try out the Surface at my local MS Store in Manhattan. Just from that brief experience, I know that if these things were on display and for sale at all the Bestbuys, Wal-Marts, Targets, and (of course!) Future Shops, this tablet would be selling a whole lot more.

People see a Surface commercial and probably think it's cool. But when they never see any in stores, they'll just forget.

Brony said,
*insert here Captain Picard doing a facepalm*

True, but here in Europe there aren't any MS stores, so I'm going to have to go with the ATIV Tab instead of the Surface RT. On the plus side, that device has built-in GPS, 3G and a few other things the Surface doesn't have.

I had the chace to try the ASUS vivo tab RT this weekend. It's a really good tablet from what i can tell. The keyboard aint that great tough.

Much like Microsoft only selling Zune in the US and the failure that became. Microsoft should stay out of the hardware business, The way they are going with Windows 8 and Office 360, they should get out of the software business too!