Analyst reports that Black Friday Microsoft Surface sales were dismal

If sales of Microsoft's Surface tablet at the most-visited shopping mall in the world are any indicator of overall sales, Microsoft had a dismal Black Friday.

Piper Jaffray analysts staked out an Apple Store and a Microsoft Store during Black Friday at the Mall of America, the most-visited mall in the world. The analysts spent eight hours at the Apple store, and two hours at the Microsoft Store and found stark differences in sales of the Surface versus the iPad. According to Fortune, an average of 11 iPads were bought per hour at the Apple store, and not a single Surface was sold when Piper Jaffray was watching.

Foot traffic was 47% lower at the Microsoft Store than the Apple Store. People purchased 17.2 items per hour at the Apple Store; they bought 3.5 items per hour at the Microsoft Store. Those visiting the Microsoft store were interested mainly in Xbox games -- five of the seven items bought during the two hours were Xbox games.

Several hours at a single store isn't a statistically valid sample, but it's anecdotal evidence that supports other findings and reports. Steve Ballmer, for example, recently admitted that Surface sales have been modest. Given his penchant for hype, that's a startling admission.

Sales problems of the Surface tablet should be no surprise. With a starting price of $500, I don't expect them to sell well. An IDC report concurs:

"Price points are critical in tablets, and Microsoft and its partners will have a tough time winning a share of consumer wallet with price points starting at $500."

And an Associated Press pre-launch poll found that 69% of people surveyed had no interest in buying a Surface.

Unless Microsoft drops the price by at least $100 and preferably more, the Surface will largely remain a niche product. At $500 and up, it can't compete against similarly priced iPads, lower-priced iPad minis, and even lower-priced Android tablets.

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