Microsoft (MSFT) intends to slash prices on four versions of its Surface RT tablet lineup by July 14, with the price of the base model 32GB edition pared down by 30 percent to $349, according to a Staples ad viewed by The VAR Guy. The move comes just as Microsoft is building a channel partner program for both Surface RT and Surface Pro.
With Surface RT holding less than 1 percent of the tablet market and looking up at Apple’s (AAPL) 40 percent stake in the segment, based on researcher IDC’s figures, Microsoft appears willing to pull out all the stops to up the unit’s presence in the market.
Faced with sluggish sales of the tablet, Microsoft recently cut prices of the 32GB version of the Surface RT to $199 for schools and universities in a limited time special promotion, as the company seeks to carve out some space for the slow-selling device in the Apple dominated education market and to clear out some inventory.
Now, it’s knocking down prices of the Surface RT across the board by $150, according to the report, with the Surface RT 64GB and the Surface RT 32GB with Touch Cover both priced at $449.99 and the Surface RT 64GB with Touch Cover set at $549.99.
It’s not a stretch to figure that Microsoft believes with its new Surface reseller program up and running, the 10 large resellers on the authorized short list will be able to spike Surface RT sales with the price cuts in tow. And, with Microsoft’s expanded presence in Best Buy (BBY) stores and other big box retailers, the vendor may stand a decent chance to be able to move even more units to consumers at the lowered price levels.
Microsoft is said to be prepping a new Surface Pro featuring an Intel (INTC) Haswell processor and a version of the Surface RT running on Qualcomm’s (QCOM) Snapdragon chip. A Qualcomm Snapdragon powered Surface RT would upgrade the device’s performance and might mean it will support 4G LTE. Qualcomm recently said that its Snapdragon 800 processors will include support for Windows RT 8.1.
With the education promotion, Microsoft also gave away 10,000 Surface RT units to teachers who attended the International Society for Technology Education convention in San Antonio last month. And, the vendor extended the offer not only to schools in the U.S. but also in 24 other countries worldwide.