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Handhelds Microsoft Portables Hardware

Surface Pro Sold Out; Was It Just Understocked? 413

TechCrunch is one of the many outlets to report that Microsoft's Surface Pro tablet computer sold out on its first day of wide availability. Business Insider points to Reddit threads complaining that "selling out" was largely a product of not having all that many in stock to begin with, in some cases not even enough to cover pre-ordered devices.
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Surface Pro Sold Out; Was It Just Understocked?

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  • by hsmith ( 818216 ) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @07:22PM (#42853861)
    I think the Surface is a terrible device, but It will be interesting to see reaction to this vs reaction to the Nexus ordering issues.
  • by OpenSourced ( 323149 ) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @07:30PM (#42853935) Journal

    And Nexus 10 too. How long is it to be "Temporarily" out of stock? I guess until there are better options on the market and nobody is interested anymore. It seems like a curious marketing system, but hey! I'm no MBA.

  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @07:30PM (#42853937) Homepage

    a standard marketing technique? That makes it possible to be "Amazed and pleased at the huge demand that has far exceeded our expectations!"

  • Microsoft also "sold out" of the Surface RT on launch day as well... and that thing has sold poorly after it's initial launch. They were originally expecting to sell 2 million units in Q4 2012, and they only sold about half of that.

    It seems that this tactic has become a common way for Microsoft to generate some additional post launch hype for their products. I wonder how many times they can get away with it before the mainstream press catches on...

  • by MrEricSir ( 398214 ) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @07:40PM (#42854001) Homepage

    The question is whether or not it's a marketing strategy. Was someone at Microsoft wise enough to say "Hey, Apple and Nintendo made headlines by limiting supply..."?

  • Re:i would like one (Score:4, Interesting)

    by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @07:46PM (#42854051)

    I would absolutely buy one if I had not recently bought a high-end notebook. In fact I am thinking about buying it anyways and selling the notebook.


    All the reviews I've seen say it's a heavy, expensive, power-hungry tablet that makes a crappy, expensive laptop.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 10, 2013 @07:46PM (#42854055)

    You mean that Nexus 10 which is shown as "In Stock" at Google's Shop?

  • I'm pretty sure this happens at every apple release. They run out of stock, and it's a huge success. I suppose the definition of success and understock (and all things related) is quite variable.

    I can't help wonder if microsoft just judged the market acceptance of the product just right and was ... expecting this sort of statement, controversy and ... free advertising (I'm such a cynic).
  • by RubberDogBone ( 851604 ) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @08:06PM (#42854203)

    Microsoft has deep pockets and deep connections with numerous hardware suppliers and could have stocked tens of millions of these devices, if they'd wanted to do so. Apple often does this prior to their product launches and has provided what is effectively a blueprint on how to do these sorts of things. There is no magic to it. You spend a lot of money making devices. You spend a lot of money on air freight -although arguably Microsoft had so much lead time, regular sea shipments would have been enough, and you stage stock where it will be available for sale on launch day. It is not very hard to do.

    So the fact that Microsoft did not do this means they essentially chose not to. They deliberately didn't put product in the channel. This a marketing choice, not necessarily a sign that there's huge unfulfilled demand or even moderate unfulfilled demand. If anything, it says they don't have tremendous faith in the product OR that they never intended this to be a tent-product but merely a tent-pole product designed to capture buzz that can be redirected into general interest in the platform.

    These are risky choices.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 10, 2013 @08:09PM (#42854213)

    I finally came to the realisation that I had a genuine use for a tablet. Reading academic papers on the train and the like. I tried to buy a Nexus 10 but it wasn't available anywhere. So I had a long hard think about it and in the end I bought an Acer W510, an x86 atom-based tablet running full-fat Windows 8.

    Obviously I'm going to immediately draw all sorts of ire here on Slashdot but that can't be helped. The problem I had was that there really just wasn't much difference in price between a high-end Android tablet and something with an x86 and a proper OS with proper software. Whether that matters is down to the usage case. I wanted a tablet but one I could clip a keyboard to and do some proper work in. Office apps mostly. I also wanted proper battery life, not pretend battery life.

    So far it's been pretty good! I use the weird Windows 8 Metro (or whatever it's called now) UI when I'm using it as a tablet. Mostly as a launcher but some native Win8 touch apps are handy, like document readers, Kindle, that sort of thing. The touch interface is borderline useless on the classic Windows desktop but at least there *is* a Windows desktop which is where the clip-on keyboard and Bluetooth mouse comes in. That said yesterday while lying in my hammock reading a book on it, a simple gesture swiped between the reader and full-fat Gmail running in Chrome. It's better than anything I've owned before in that respect.

    Sorry for the digression but it's on that basis I can talk about the Surface Pro which I had a play with. Firstly, it's too damn heavy. It's 900g versus 550g for the W510. Secondly it's got a fan and it has crap battery life. It also costs a whole ton of money. Sexy slim ultrabook money. So the fact it's *also* a tablet is quite critical if it's pretty much inferior to cheaper ultrabooks in every way as a notebook. A high-res Windows 8 tablet that weighs too much to hold up easily? I don't really get it. On that basis I think the Pro just isn't right.

    In the same way RT is just a waste of oxygen since it can only really touch W8 touchy tablet stuff and it makes Android tablet app availability look generous. If you'd wanted a proper tablet for tablet stuff only, you'd do Android or the iPad in my view. The W510 is an interesting device that fits my purposes but it seems kind of niche. I'd prefer it had a slightly higher res screen and the CPU sucked a bit less ass, but it looks like that's coming down the line.

    I reckon the Surface Pro is a weird spec because Microsoft are trying to justify the whole Windows RT category as the light device. I think that's rubbish. x86 tablet/notebook hybrids look quite good to me but they do need to be good light weight tablets and that's only just on the bleeding edge right now. Looks like it'll get better still when the faster atoms come along and maybe the Windows 8 app store will start looking more interesting. It wouldn't take much to overtake Android in that respect.

  • by icebike ( 68054 ) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @08:14PM (#42854241)

    The battery life is the biggest draw back in my opinion. Not a deal breaker, but still a drawback.

    For practical use in business, you have to be able to have it run all day on the shop floor, the sales floor, the offices or the patient wards.

    To be fair, the run time tests were continuous operation of some fairly screen intensive applications. If it is allowed to go to sleep mode in between frequent, but not continuous use, it may be fine in the real world.

  • by caywen ( 942955 ) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @08:24PM (#42854313)

    Many of you accuse Microsoft of understocking, and yet when it doesn't continue to sell a whole lot of units, you laugh at their sales? Maybe they just know roughly how many they expect to sell, and stock accordingly? That it sells out on the first day seems to draw unnecessary ire. You weren't really interested in buying it anyways, so why the hell do you care so much?

    Really, it's almost as if many of you gain some kind of strange exhilaration from laughing at and faux outrage at Microsoft's missteps. Really, why? The only explanation I can think if is that you WANT to see Microsoft succeed - that many of you are secret Microsoft admirers who are left disappointed and needing an outlet to vent your frustration by mocking them.

    Microsoft is doing an excellent job at ensuring their own mediocre results and their own gradual downfall. It really doesn't need you to mock them on the way down. That seems to be a byproduct of your own personality flaws.

  • by bmo ( 77928 ) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @08:46PM (#42854469)

    >Maybe they just know roughly how many they expect to sell, and stock accordingly?

    That just means that Microsoft doesn't believe in its own product.

    If you really believe that your product will sell and people will stand in line for it, like they stood in line for Windows 95, and you've got the cash, you should at least make enough to fill the pre-orders and a couple of month's retail orders. It's not like Microsoft is hurting for cash for manufacturing and it's not like they don't have millions to throw at marketing research to find out the actual demand. There are so many things wrong with this "shortage" it doesn't pass the sniff test.

    >Really, why?

    Schadenfreude is fun. If you step on the backs of people with your boots on the way up, expect kicks on the way down. They deserve all the derision they get.


  • Yep (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @08:59PM (#42854547)

    Some things sell out because they just can't make enough. The company has made as many as it can and put them all out to retail, and they all sell. However other things sell out because the company deliberately limits production/distribution to make them scarce.

    I can work too. People seem to have an irrational need to own things if they are told they can't have it. So paradoxically it can work to increase sales in the long run. People are told "you can't have this" and that makes them want it, even though they didn't before.

    Look at the massive run on firearms/magazines what with the proposal for new gun legislation. These people were perfectly happy with what they had prior to this, but suddenly they get told "you can't have this" and they want to rush out and buy it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 10, 2013 @09:15PM (#42854637)

    Windows 8 is actually great for tablets. Have you tried it? And I seriously do not get why you hate the device's performance - get the RT version if you want long battery life and low specs. Or just any other table.

    Of course I would still like to see linux running on it.

    Lifelong Apple user and yes, I agree. Tried Window 8 on a touch screen equipped 12" laptop. It's actually quite nice although I can see how somebody who is married to the mouse and the old start button would not like it any more than an entrenched Gnome 2 user liked the switch to Gnome 3. I didn't mind so much, Apple regularly shakes up their UI and I've gotten used to things changing. I like the sliding tiles concept of Windows 8 but I have to say prefer the Gnome 3 idea of pressing a button, getting an overlay and then using search to access stuff and the way you can use modifier key+arrow key to tile the windows on screen. It does a good job of minimising the number of times my fingers have to leave the keyboard.

  • by Howitzer86 ( 964585 ) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @09:34PM (#42854727)

    Honestly Windows 8 is perfect for the new x86/64 tablets. Be it from Acer, Asus, Lenovo, Samsung, or Microsoft. I had high hopes to begin with, though the reviews kinda brought that down a bit and made me afraid that I'd regret getting it.

    Since buying the Pro yesterday I have been really impressed with it. Windows 8 actually makes sense now. If you buy it, you may discover that the metro version of Internet Explorer 10 is the one you prefer using with it. You may discover a strange new desire for tablet apps to run on this "PC". You may realize that the market really is wide open for developers, and that this kind of tablet is about to become really popular.

    You may also realize that while the pressure sensitive Wacom pen is cool and great for writing or drawing (try out that handwriting recognition!), it's actually really there to help you navigate the desktop. Honestly I would not consider a PC-Tablet without one of these.

    In my opinion, the ARM tablets came about because it reflected what we really want, but in a package that was commercially feasible for 2008-2012. Those only completely satisfied the consumers of content. Everyone else still to buy a desktop or a laptop to produce much of anything (though there are exceptions, most people are simply out of luck or are stuck with inferior solutions). Now we're about to get what we really want, in an interface that it can really work on, with hardware that'll really handle it.

    The current issue of there being a weak battery, or the weight, or the thickness is all temporary. Oh and speaking of thickness, it's exactly the same as the 2011 Asus Transformer, which was my last tablet. The issue that some reviewers have with the HD aspect ratio is really overblown too.

    Now that I have this new tablet/PC hybrid, I'm selling both my Transformer and my laptop. If they make an 8 or 16gb ram version with more C-drive space and a better video chip, it may even replace my desktop. The HD4000 comes really close to my desktop's Geforce GTX460 according to my own tests and Cinebench, and the Intel i5 beats my desktop's AMD X4 by just a hair... so really that is inevitable.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @10:49PM (#42855101) Journal

    This is tangential to your overall point; but Amazon's strategy seems to be not no advertising; but rather advertising a new way to buy Amazon stuff to existing Amazon customers. You see some chatter about the e-ink models(though less now, since they aren't trying to sell an entire product category to the non-techies); but the tablets are largely invisible unless you go to, at which point you'll see references to the things all over the place.

    Given the reports about Amazon's negligible margins on the hardware, and their aggressive re-skinning and integration with their own store of stock Android, it seems likely that they mostly care about taking existing Amazon customers and turning them into better Amazon customers, while the other players are more interested in moving units across the board.

  • by Kreigaffe ( 765218 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @01:20AM (#42855875)

    Shit, son. Apple didn't even SHIP any iPad Minis to any stores in a 30 mile radius from me, save two that I'm aware of -- one being an Apple store, and the other an Apple-store-inside-a-Walmart.
    Most places didn't start seeing them until right around Christmas (erring more towards *after* Christmas than before).

    And of course Apple dropped iPad 3 prices by 50 bucks, and then again, so they now match the iPad 2 prices. Which were *not* dropped. So that the iPad Mini would be their lowest price point, so as to drive its sales. Many places stopped getting iPad 3 shipments around the last price drop, but PLENTY of iPad 2s! Which NO ONE WANTS, but Apple was able to unload onto retailers and keep the profitable 3s for their own stores.

    Not that any of that doesn't make good business sense..
    but then, not that any of that isn't at LEAST as big of a douche move as what you're saying MS is doing here.

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