Microsoft Surface 2 Sales Claims: Fool Me Once…
Microsoft (MSFT) says pre-order stock of Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 tablets are close to selling out ahead of the Oct. 22 product launch. That sounds impressive except for two variables: First, the software giant has not disclosed how many tablet units it will build for launch. Second, Microsoft in mid-2013 made some less-than-forthcoming statements about Surface sales, only to have the facts undermine CEO Steve Ballmer's leadership. Here's the update.
Let's start by giving Microsoft credit: The original Surface Pro was a promising tablet with considerable PC capabilities. The new Surface Pro and related docking station capabilities will close the gap between PC and tablet users even more.
Poke around and you'll certainly find Surface adopters within the IT channel. Folks like CA Technologies VP Adam Famularo come to mind.
Deja Vu All Over Again
Still, Microsoft has made reassuring statements about Surface sales in the past, only to have reality come crashing down on the company's tablet business.
Back on July 15, 2013, a Microsoft spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal that Surface RT price cuts reflected strong demand that the company had seen with previous tablet promotions. Three days later, Microsoft announced a $900 million write off for unsold Surface tablets. Apparently, the promotions hadn't worked at all.
Now let's fast forward to the present. Microsoft indicates that initial Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 demand is strong ahead of the Oct. 22 product shipments. This sure does sound familiar. And once again, Microsoft has not disclosed how much Surface inventory will flow through channel partners — including distributors and authorized resellers.
The VAR Guy's hunch: Surface Pro 2 will gain a respectable following. But until Microsoft discloses unit sales figures, speculation about customer demand remains exactly that — speculation.