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Handhelds Microsoft

Microsoft Surface Struggles to Ship A Million Units 375

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the tim-cook-hexed-ballmer dept.
zacharye writes "While some see potential in Microsoft's Surface tablet, most industry watchers appear to have written off the device at this point. Orders were reportedly cut in half following a slow launch, and Microsoft's debut slate has been hammered time and time again by reviewers and analysts. The latest to pile on is Boston-based brokerage firm Detwiler Fenton, which estimates that when all is said and done, Microsoft will have sold fewer than 1 million Surface tablets in the slate's debut quarter." Still better than 25,000.
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Microsoft Surface Struggles to Ship A Million Units

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  • Raspberry Pi (Score:5, Interesting)

    by doconnor (134648) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @01:49PM (#42193659) Homepage

    Sounds like the a tiny, caseless computer for hackers and wannabe hackers designed mostly by volunteers is going to outsell a flagship product from one of the most powerful companies in the world.

  • FUD (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MetalliQaZ (539913) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @01:50PM (#42193669)

    As much as I'd love to bash on Microsoft for a while, I must say that there seems to be some FUD floating around here. You have reviewers generally praising the hardware and the OS while at the same time advising readers to stay away because of the struggling App ecosystem. Good luck attracting developers that way.

    Seems to me that MS could drop the price to make it a loss-leader and watch them fly off the the shelves, if they wanted.

  • Side note... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Shoten (260439) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @01:50PM (#42193679)

    As a refugee from HP, I have to say that I derive immense joy from the "at least they did better than HP" comment in this story. EXCELLENT! (And yes, I'm hugely into schadenfreude.) Now, I just have to wait a bit before I hit "preview" because it seems that any post that comes before all others is somehow considered inherently suspect, and gets modded down. (I suspect that if Einstein had posted E=MC^2 that way, it would have been modded "Troll," even if it were directly applicable to the topic being discussed.)

    But yes...it does seem like this is the Zune all over again. Late to compete against a mature product that defines a market space, and by most accounts inferior to that main competitor...only the Zune was actually price-competitive if I recall correctly. At least with Windows Mobile, they've had multiple products to unsuccesfully compete against over the years...Palm, then Blackberry, then the iPhone.

    Okay, it's been 5 minutes...someone MUST have posted SOMETHING by now...(hits 'Preview')

  • Re:The actual reason (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jeng (926980) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @01:56PM (#42193757)

    I think that a majority of the Surfaces sold so far are developers looking for a reference system.

  • Re:The actual reason (Score:5, Interesting)

    by falcon5768 (629591) <Falcon5768.comcast@net> on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @01:59PM (#42193799) Journal

    "Also we're at the verge of a netbook-caliber tablet crash where everyone realizes they all suck and stop buying them."

    Nope not going to happen, and there is a VERY good reason. Netbooks sucked SPECIFICALLY for everything you listed, tablets dont specifically because they dont pretend to be a full computer. People who buy them know this isnt a computer replacement for real work, but a supplement. Netbooks were trying to bill themselves as a computer replacement but they are really just a POS.

    That being said 99.9% of what most people use a computer for is easily handled by tablets. I do my email, surf the web, work on music, type papers and reports, and play some pretty good games on mine, all activities I did at home with my laptop but no longer need my laptop for. In fact since getting a iPad I literally ONLY use my laptop for work, and even there if in a pinch could SSH into my servers and work on them through command line if need be but would prefer my laptop over doing that.

    So no, that crash isnt going to happen and anyone thinking it will is smoking some pretty good crack

  • Re:The actual reason (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Missing.Matter (1845576) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @02:06PM (#42193889)

    They're too fragile, they don't have a DVD drive, they're harder to type on, the screen is tiny, they get dirty with fingerprints, they don't run 99% of software ever written, everything they do on it is designed to cost money, the browsers don't display pages correctly, the battery life is a lie, most don't have USB flash drive capabilities, they don't work with the majority of printers, and it's difficult to do meaningful work on them in any way shape or form.

    Ironically, Windows tablets did all of this and more before the iPad was introduced. I still think the reason they sold so poorly is that they cost so much and sacrificed too much performance for the touch screen. My Latitude XT retailed for over $2000 for a base model in 2008. Today's tablet PCs are a whole different breed: they don't cost much more than a regular laptop, they're just as powerful, and Windows 8 has many touch friendly features to make using them as a tablet enjoyable. This time around, it looks like Microsoft is seeing more demand [neowin.net] for them as well.

  • by Missing.Matter (1845576) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @02:07PM (#42193903)
    Surface has very limited geographic and retail distribution. It seems to me this is Microsoft's effort not to step on OEM partner shoes, who will be selling in Walmart, Best Buy, etc.
  • Re:FUD (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Missing.Matter (1845576) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @02:23PM (#42194121)

    at the same time advising readers to stay away because of the struggling App ecosystem. Good luck attracting developers that way.

    The store is actually fairing very well. Since launch, the number of apps have doubled [windows.com] (at about 26,000 now) and is increasing at a rate of about 20% per week. Many apps have passed the million download mark. The previous link also explains that some apps have even crossed $25k in revenue, which shifts their takeaway from 60% to 80% of revenue for life. This is very attractive to developers. Further, it looks like already the Windows store is outperforming the OSX appstore [neowin.net], which has been open for two years, despite the fact that as of now, more people use OSX than Windows 8. The Windows store has twice as many apps, and daily download volume is 5x higher.

    I think the success of the Windows store is an eventuality due to the sheer number of licenses Windows will sell just for being Windows. For the surface and other tablets, I think this is their lifeline, as their app ecosystem will increase regardless of how Surface or any other tablet sells.

  • by mr1911 (1942298) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @02:55PM (#42194589)

    You act like people gravitate toward superior products, as opposed to the product with superior marketing.

    You seem to think there is a differentiation between the two. If an inferior product reaches critical market mass through superior marketing, that mass often makes it the superior choice.

    Betamax was superior to VHS, but the players were multiples of cost and the content was lacking. Although Betamax was superior for the engineer, VHS was superior for the consumer.

  • Re:Fire Sale? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Penguinisto (415985) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @03:17PM (#42194873) Journal

    I doubt they do it, for a few reasons:

    * They're allegedly "all in" with the thing. They know that the Surface Pro (the one which can run 'actual' windows programs) won't sell much more than any other Windows tablet has since 2001, so if they're going to do tablets, the RT is pretty much it.

    * They went out of their way to totally screw up the UI in Windows 8 just to accommodate tablets. They risked enterprise acceptance, long-time customer expectations, and more... just for tablets. This reinforces the first point, but also means that if they fail, it'll be a damned hard time explaining why they would eventually put the UI back (not marketing mind, but Ballmer's own political reasons, since he and the recently-departed Sinofsky put so much of their reputations into the damned thing.)

    * They didn't sell the remaining Kin or Zune units at fire-sale prices, did they? (I'm honestly not 100% certain, but I believe they did not).

    Finally, HP did it because they really weren't all that invested in the things - that is, HP didn't bet the company on a tablet paradigm. Microsoft however appears to be doing just that.

  • by fuzznutz (789413) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @03:28PM (#42194971)
    Microsoft dealt netbooks the death blow with their "reference platform" for Windows Starter Edition. You couldn't have more than 2GB of memory with only 1GB installed and still get the super duper netbook discount for Windows. You couldn't have a screen larger than 10.2". Only single core CPUs were allowed. This stagnated the netbook market at the same time when full sized laptop prices were dropping and hardware was improving while people shifted away from desktops.

    Why would anyone buy a crippled netbook for $250-$300 over a cheap laptop with a real version of Windows, optical drive, multicore processor for $300 - $350? The weight and battery life weren't worth the drawbacks for $50. I was shopping for a netbook for my daughter to take to school during this time and opted to get a laptop instead.

    Microsoft disrupted the natural market with their license demands in an attempt to kill Linux on netbooks. Unfortunately for them, the iPad shifted the market for low power computing out of their sphere of influence.
  • Re:The actual reason (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ackthpt (218170) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @03:36PM (#42195047) Homepage Journal

    I'm surprised, I actually assumed there would be at LEAST a million Microsoft fanboys who would buy one. I don't mean that in a derogatory way, there's Apple and Android fanboys too. I just thought the Microsoft faithful alone would push it well beyond the 1m mark. And I supposed it might still, given a little more time.

    Maybe everyone is holding out for the Surface Pro?

    I think the Microsoft Fanboy is a dying breed. Not simply because they've been burned a time or two, but because Microsoft is so incredibly late to this dance there's only so many wallflowers who haven't accepted iPad or Android in the interim and are now rather unwilling to jump ship for an unknown.

    Microsoft really needed to come out with a strong contender, but it's overpriced, new interface/behavior and then the boot dropped when the battery life of the Pro became its Achilles' heel.

    Ballmer must be done throwing chairs and is now moving on to throwing engineers around his office.

  • by Nerdfest (867930) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @05:43PM (#42196599)

    Someone was complaining the other day about some of us pointing out the very obvious Microsoft shills, but there is quite obviously a very concerted effort by Microsoft to pump up their credibility and to diminish that of their competitors. It would be quite entertaining if someone were to expose it as they did with the FaceBook attempts.

  • Re:The actual reason (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cbhacking (979169) <<moc.oohay> <ta> ... isiurc_tuo_neeb>> on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @06:27PM (#42197285) Homepage Journal

    The funny thing is, most of what you're claiming as a problem for tablets is untrue of the Surface. If the world worked the way you thought, they should be hugely successful.

    * Too fragile: The magnesium shell on those things is tough. You can drop a Surface from standing height onto marble without any damage, or onto cement with only minor scratches. People have accidentally left theirs on top of cars, had them slide off on the freeway, and get run over... and aside from some cosmetic damage they worked fine. Seriously, do a search: "surface run over by car".

    * Don't have a DVD drive: technically true, but not a real problem. They have a USB port, so you can connect a drive if you want to. They have Windows networking, so you can access another PC's drive. They have a microSD slot, so you can rip a bunch of movies to something smaller than most fingernails and use that, rather than needing to lug a bunch of discs around. They can't run legacy software, so there's no need to worry about installing your old apps anyhow. (Surface Pro may make that more of an issue, but there's still all the other ways to get stuff off optical drives.) Hell, Win8 has built-in ISO mounting!

    * Harder to type on: I take it you've never tried the Surface Type Cover? IT's a full-size keyboard with very reactive keys that offer nice feedback and have almost no travel. I'll grant the Touch Cover takes a bit of getting used to, but only a bit; you'll be up to 50% of your physical-key WPM within an hour, and that's far from the limit. For purely touchscreen typing, of course that's harder, but Win8 does have some cool options for the software input panel, including a split mode for thumbs and handwriting recognition for styluses.

    * Tiny screen: Depends what you're comparing it to. Compared to my 27" desktop monitor, yeah, no shit. I can't even put that in my luggage though, much less a backpack or purse. Compared to my 15.6" laptop, a 10" tablet is definitely smaller but it's also often a few inches closer, which helps there. Compared to my 4" smartphone, it's a hell of a lot bigger... Also, the Surface has one of the largest screens in the modern tablet farm factor

    * Fingerprints: Way less of an issue than you might think. You can see smudges when the screen is off, but not (unless you specifically try to) when it's on. If you have really dirty hands - as in, you wouldn't want to shake hands with somebody - yeah, that's going to leave a mark, but it's easy enough to clean up if that happens (certainly a lot easier than cleaning a computer keyboard!)

    * Software: Actually, the Surface Pro does (or will) run "99% of software ever written" (to the extent that such hyperbole is true for any computer in operation today). The Surface RT does not (although if you can recompile for ARM, we're getting there) but it's getting more apps constantly.

    * Designed to cost money: Hardly. There's more free (ad supported or even just outright free of monetization) software on tablets and phones than I've seen anywhere else except on Linux and similar systems. Actually, there might still be more, if you don't count Android as a form of Linux. Mobile apps are almost never over $10 and the vast majority are under $3 if paid at all, and virtually every app has a trial so you can try it out. In a large number of cases the trial is even fully functional, with the "purchase" option basically being a suggested donation amount.

    * Browser problems: The exact opposite of true. Windows RT includes IE10, which compares well with Webkit (used on other tablets and on PCs) and also includes the legacy IE rendering engines, which means it works on those atrocious sites made for IE6. It also includes Flashplayer, which no other production tablet does. It does not include Java, but considering that the Java browser plugin is probably less secure than the Flash plugin right now, I'm OK with that; it's disabled on my PCs anyhow.

    * Battery life: Microsoft says 8 h

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