Microsoft Touts Surface Pre-order Sell Out…Again

by Matt Klassen on October 8, 2013

Late last week Microsoft announced via its Surface blog that preorders for the latest iteration of the company’s tablet/laptop hybrid are selling like hotcakes, stating, “it…looks like pre-order stock of the Surface 2 (64GB) and Surface Pro 2 (256 GB and 512GB) are close to selling out.” But haven’t we heard this story before, the one where Microsoft touts its strong preorder sales but is left holding the bag on $900 million worth of unsold devices?

The problem with boasting about preorders for the Surface 2 and Surface 2 Pro tablets is that it really doesn’t tell us anything, except of course that Microsoft might not be able to meet initial consumer demand. The proclamation may have meaning if Microsoft divulged the details of its initial production run, but of course the Redmond PC giant has offered no such details.

Simply put, while it may be a shrewd marketing technique to spur on those fence-sitters contemplating purchasing the next Surface, boasting about presale numbers—particularly following the lackluster reception of the original Surface– does little to prove that there is actual consumer interest this time around.

For those who may not remember, leading up to the release of the original Surface RT platform last year Microsoft sang the exact same tune, and the truth of the matter is that initially the Surface device was sold-out, but not because of growing consumer demand.

As I recently wrote, “Along with effectively every mobile project Microsoft has on the go, the company’s Surface line has had a tough row to hoe, resulting in significant financial losses and leaving Microsoft with millions of unsold units due to lower than expected consumer interest.”

In fact, Microsoft seemed to swallow its own tripe regarding the popularity of its Surface RT, going on to produce far more tablets than it could sell, forcing it to book a $900 million write-down on its remaining inventory while revealing it has only generated a paltry $853 million in revenue from the entire Surface franchise.

While kudos to Microsoft for not giving up on a device that has boundless potential—and one that I would buy in a heartbeat if it would only live up to my expectations—there’s little reason to think that anything has changed this time around, as aside from a few tweaks to performance and accessories, about the only thing that’s changed with the Surface 2 is less of the strange choreographed dancing in the product advertising.

In the end I have to say Microsoft has its production strategy all wrong. Sure it wants to be like Apple and limit its initial production run to ramp up the hype among consumers, but if initial hype is all you have, well you better sell as many tablets as you can right out of the gate before consumers lose interest and buy something else.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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