Microsoft Surface Pro sales CANNIBALIZING Surface RT

Redmond's slab slump continues despite Windows 8 model


The bad news just keeps coming for Microsoft's vaunted line of Surface fondleslabs, with sources reporting that sales of the devices continue to disappoint.

Redmond has sold just around 1.5 million of the devices to date, Bloomberg reports, citing sources who claim knowledge of the company's sales figures.

That's a little more than double than the last estimate we heard, when analyst firm Canalys reckoned that Microsoft had moved about 722,000 Surface RT slabs during Q4 of 2012.

Double isn't good, though. It's true that we haven't finished the first quarter of 2013 yet, so Microsoft has managed to sell 778,000 Surface units in less than three months. But Surface RT launched on October 26, 2012, so that initial 722,000 was only really two months' worth of sales to begin with.

So sales have been essentially flat, then? Well, sort of – if you're just counting total sales for the entire Surface product line.

Consider, though, that Microsoft launched the Intel-powered Surface Pro model running Windows 8 in February. That version was widely expected to broaden the appeal of the line to include power users who were put off by Windows RT on the ARM-based model, but it looks like that hasn't happened.

Bloomberg's sources claim that Redmond has shifted 400,000 Surface Pros so far – that's fair enough. But if total sales of the entire Surface line are more or less the same as they were during the previous quarter, that means nearly all of the Surface Pro sales came at the expense of Surface RT sales.

That's lousy news indeed, given that Surface RT was already performing worse than Microsoft and many analysts expected.

UBS analyst Brent Thill initially predicted that Microsoft would move 2 million Surface slabs in the fourth quarter. In fact it sold little more than a third as many, despite launching Surface RT in time for the holiday shopping season.

Meanwhile, Redmond's hardware partners have been eyeing the software giant's Surface misadventure closely, and many are getting cold feet about launching Windows RT devices of their own. Samsung canceled its Windows RT plans in January, as did Toshiba in August, while Acer and HTC have both delayed their launches into the second quarter or later – if they end up happening at all.

That leaves Microsoft holding the bag for its underperforming ARM OS, and what a bag it is. Reuters reports that Redmond put in an initial order of 3 million Surface RT fondleslabs, and if the latest sales estimates are correct, it has yet to sell even half that many.

Faced with bleak figures like that, the fact that Apple sold 22.9 million iPads in the fourth quarter of 2012 alone is just salt in the wound.

The Reg reached out to Microsoft and was fully prepared to offer tender words of consolation, but the software giant declined to comment. ®

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