Touch system shortages, sales played parts in Surface RT retail expansion
Microsoft's in-house sales strategy wasn't working, analyst argues
Computerworld - Microsoft may have accelerated plans to expand the Surface RT's retail footprint because touch-sensitive devices are the only Windows hardware flying off shelves, an analyst said yesterday.
In a shift from its in-house sales strategy, Microsoft announced Tuesday that the tablet will be sold in other retail outlets by mid-month.
In the U.S., Staples will start selling the Surface RT today, as will Best Buy through its online store. Best Buy will kick off in-store sales Sunday.
"We always knew that they would do this eventually," said Steven Baker of the NPD Group in a Tuesday interview, of Microsoft plans to widen distribution. Most experts, however, figured that that wouldn't happen until early 2013.
So what drove the turnaround? Baker said he didn't know, not with certainty, and that everyone, himself included, was guessing.
"You can look at this one of two ways. Either the products are doing well, and they wanted to accelerate their distribution," said Baker, "or the Surface is not doing well, and they decided they had to do something."
Baker said it was impossible to know which was more accurate because Microsoft has not shared Surface RT sales data, even in the most general terms. NPD, which tracks U.S. retail sales, does not have access to Microsoft store or online sales.
"No one has any real knowledge of their sales," Baker said. "But my guess is that [sales] volumes weren't where they wanted them to be."
Baker dismissed recent estimates by analysts, including those at the Boston-based brokerage firm Detwiler Fenton, who pegged Surface RT sales at between 500,000 and 600,000. "I can do a back-of-the-envelope calculation to get a number, too," Baker said.
But that doesn't mean it's accurate.
What the early move means, however, is that Microsoft's initial retailing strategy wasn't cutting it.
"I don't want to say that this is an indictment of the Surface RT, because I don't think it is," said Baker. "But the strategy to pump up the stores only had so many legs. At some point they were going to have to expand the distribution."
By Baker's analysis, Microsoft chose its original retail plan -- sell the Surface RT only in its own stores and online site -- for good reason. "It made sense to me at the time. The Surface was a different product, and Microsoft wanted every customer to have a great experience," he said. "They wanted to control [the customer] experience. Once you put it out in mass retail, you lose some level of control."
Microsoft may also have thought it could use the Surface RT to drive traffic to its stores -- more than half of which are temporary "pop-up" stores open only for the holidays, although that, too, has changed -- and, as Baker put it, "pump up the stores."
- 2-in-1 devices face a long, slow slog to credibility
- Microsoft support tells Surface Pro 2 owners firmware fix will ship Jan. 14
- As customers fume, Microsoft promises Surface Pro 2 firmware fix ASAP
- Analyst credits Surface sell-out to Microsoft swinging conservative
- Best Buy does what Microsoft won't: Takes Surface tablets in trade
- Deja vu all over again: Microsoft warns of Surface 2 sell-out
- Microsoft steers same strategic course in Surface do-over
- Dumping a Surface? eBay averages double the return of a buyback vendor
- Microsoft's Surface to be under revenue microscope
- Microsoft's most loyal users ask for Surface trade-in program
- Silicon Valley's 19 Coolest Places to Work
- Is Windows 8 Development Worth the Trouble?
- 8 Books Every IT Leader Should Read This Year
- 10 Hot Hadoop Startups to Watch
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- Keeping UP with Mobile Trendsetters Global survey tracks achievements and challenges of mobile initiatives along with best practices for success.
- Assessing ROI for Mobile Acceleration Clients This EMA® paper examines the business case for deploying mobile WAN optimization client software and builds a ROI model based on the experiences...
- The Apple-ization of the Enterprise: Understanding IT's New World Read this paper for how to tackle Apple-ization (and the related consumerization of IT and Bring Your Own Device/BYOD).
- A Practical Introduction to Enterprise Mobility Management Read the white paper to better understand the basic concepts within mobility management and to learn how you can apply EMM technology to...
- On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy...
- Mobile Security: Containerizing Enterprise Data In this on-demand webinar, Fixmo's Lee Cocking, VP of corporate strategy, explains why Apple-ization trends like mobility and "bring-your-own-device" (BYOD) are driving the... All Mobile/Wireless White Papers | Webcasts
Our new weekly Consumerization of IT newsletter covers a wide range of trends including BYOD, smartphones, tablets, MDM, cloud, social and what it all means for IT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!