back to article Surface sales 'modest' so far, Ballmer modestly admits

Sales of Microsoft’s Windows RT-based Surface tablet are off to a “modest” start according to chief executive Steve Ballmer. Ballmer is reported to have given the update to French news site Le Parisien. Microsoft’s chief executive also used the occasion to boost January’s release of the Intel-based tablets. Ballmer described …


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  1. DrXym Silver badge

    Not surprising

    They cost too much. Make them cheaper and they might sell better.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      New Tablet

      Sounds cheap, good buy.

      oh wait.........................

    2. bdam

      Re: Not surprising

      And this is before the news came out they fall apart within days?

    3. Bob Vistakin

      Re: Not surprising

      Who'd have thought it - these app less, overpriced tablets running experimental, untested software which come apart at the seams after less than a weeks use aren't doing too well. Still, at least the WP8 sales figures are looking good. Aren't they?

    4. N13L5

      Re: Here we go... Sinofski is gone

      I thought it was going to be another 3 months before he's out after removing the start button and doing the most moronic deck chair rearrangement imaginable...

      But November as of November 13th, its already official...

      Now the board just have to dump Ballmer and Microsoft might manage a turnaround...

  2. phlashbios

    Because it's missing features...

    It needs to be better than everything else, if it is to muscle its way into the market, and missing features like GPS and an sd-card slot are just stupid design choices. Especially when the product is not even competitively priced against its rivals.

    Hard to understand the thinking, unless they are hoping that the possibility of running Windows 8 across tablet/PC/Laptop/phone is going to be enough to swing it for punters to buy their tablets.

    If they want to make inroads, it needs to have all the hardware features its rivals have, and be cheaper too.

    1. DrXym Silver badge

      Re: Because it's missing features...

      It has an MicroSDXC slot. GPS is not a deal breaker. But it is underspecified compared to its nearest rival especially when the cost of keyboard is added.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RICHTO will be fapping himself silly that they sold out of both the 32GB ones that were in stock in the UK.

    1. Bob Vistakin

      @AC 11:58 I know here they both went, too. Here's the autotune version for a little variety:

    2. Lord Voldemortgage

      I think that if you are going to mention a fellow commentard by name it is rather unsporting to do so anonymously.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "I think that if you are going to mention a fellow commentard by name it is rather unsporting to do so anonymously."

        Thank you for your valued and considered insight into this vital matter.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Such modesty

    I wonder what kind of "modest" sales we're talking here. Winphone takeup modest? Apple market share 'rounding error' type modest? Bing market share modest? Zune 'total sales since the dawn of history' modest? Or is 'Rebel Yell' Ballmer just being modest about how modest they are?

    1. Mike Brown

      Re: Such modesty

      knowing how spin works, and how all companies "enhance" sales figures, the modest sales must be fucking aweful. Why wouldnt balmer say they were great if they were great?

    2. TheOtherHobbes

      Re: Such modesty

      My guess is 'well into three figures' modest.

      Does anyone know anyone who bought one?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Such modesty

        'well into three figures'

        What, integers?

        I don't know anyone who's expressed anything beyond a mild theoretical interest in getting the company to cough for one - for research of course. If they do an HP Touchpad on the pricing I've no doubt that will change rapidly.

    3. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      You must be a Microsoft shill

      You didn't even mention the Kin.

  5. K

    Out of stock..

    My ass!

    Trying to do an Apple by limiting and holding back stocks, but doing a poor job :P

    1. Tyrion

      Re: Out of stock..

      Exactly. Microsoft have been doing this for a while now. First it was the Windows Phone launch, then Nokia did the same thing with the Lumia. Of course the MS Fanboys and media then predictably equate low stock with demand. It isn't fooling anyone but themselves.

  6. Longrod_von_Hugendong

    Well thats no surprise is it

    its over priced, under spec'ed and a M$ product so its about as cool the surface of the sun. No one is going to want it.

    It always amazes me that companies seem incapable of assessing whats required to sell, take a look at the Blackberry playbook and the palm products, there are lessons to be learn all over the market, all you have todo is to read, if they only ever read the register its obvious they are going to struggle from the offset.

    No shit Sherlock - because the clues are out there and you dont need a detective to find them. I think even Bing may contain the answer...

    1. Silverburn
      Thumb Up

      Re: Well thats no surprise is it

      There might be more to it than a collective incompetence of the marketing drones in this area. Though it's hard to believe I actually came out with a statement like that...No, I think the problem here is that they saw what Apple did, and decided they had 3 choices;

      a) copy and undercut without compromising "perceived quality". Which has proven harder than expected. Maybe the plastic vs aluminium is something to do with it. Who knows.

      b) copy Apple wholesale; form factor, pricing/margin model the whole shebang and hope people associate their product as being identical to an iPad. Which has failed for some, as their either end up in court (unfairly or otherwise), or can't match Apple "perceived" quality levels at this price.

      c) Differentiate. Snag here is that that takes them down very niche roads, and so far these niches are much narrower than expected. Or by tweaking the form factor, and in the process alienate the "I want an ipad, but don't want an ipad" crowd. And then some have just arsed it up royally in a hurry to get to market (eg aforementioned Playbook).

      MS could do well here, but they need to think about instilling "coolness" and some USP's into their products, as it's certain unique.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Well thats no surprise is it

      Oh well, I'm interested in a tablet that can run actual Windows software, for example my Canon camera utilities... especially those to control the camera via USB. It costs more or less the price of a Canon Wi-Fi adapter...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Translating Ballmer Speak

    The surface sales are shit.

  8. Tyrion

    Low res screen, virtually no apps, and not compatible with existing Windows apps, high price, poor UI ( Metro or what ever they're calling it these days ), no desktop apps are allowed so direct x86 -> ARM ports (recompilation) is out. That means a complete rewrite for the new RT API. Good luck convincing software devs to do that Ballmer.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This bodes very badly for Surface

    Given how much he usually bloviates on about how such-and-such a product launch is the most successful ever.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This bodes very badly for Surface

      I'd never encountered "bloviate" before reading this (thanks!), but if the OED were to start using pictures instead of words for definitions, Ballmer's mugshot would be the perfect choice for this one.

  10. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    All these pixels

    Just to show the ugly rectangles for colour-blind people?

    Oh, wait, I see - Mr Ballmer must have finally learned BASIC's graphics functions!



    ...Wow, look at this!


    SET COLOR "magenta"

    BOX AREA 100,300,100,200

    ...Yippee! Quick! Run it into production! I've made it myself!!! It's gonna be big!!!

  11. TheTrouser

    Needs that killer Windows App Store app....

    Want it to sell more units?

    Unleash an iFart-style app on the Windows App Store.

    Hours of fun... just swiping and tooting, swiping and tooting.

    I mean, what else can you do with one?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Although it may seem early to call it..

    ..I still don't see why I would want to pay 600 quid for something as locked down as an iPad, but backed with the software library of a washing machine.

    Moreover, what software it does come with isn't fantastic- and the "included" version of Office isn't allowed to be used for "commercial" work. I blink in a bewildered way at exactly what the "value proposition" is here- maybe other folks are the same.

    (Also, regarding WinPho takeup.. "ha HA!"</nelsonmuntz>. Even if people wanted the bloody things, the stupid exclusivity deals make them all but impossible to get.. When a device isn't all that popular to start with, requiring people to jump through onerous hoops to get one isn't going to drive sales to a particular piggy vendor, it's going to make them buy something else.)

  13. revdjenk

    This is a weighty decision...

    2 lbs! nearly a kilo! surface pro is waaaaay too heavy!

  14. Keith 72

    Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay to expensive

    You need the keyboard to justify the Surface experience over a tablet IMHO, but that bumps the entry price up to a crazy £479.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay to expensive

      I think the Touch keyboard/cover actually comes with it?

      I'm waiting to see what price the Surface Pro comes out at. Samsung have their to ATIV branded tablets at the moment which run Windows 8 Pro, one is Atom and 32-bit based, the other is an i5 and 64-bit. Both are a little pricey, but the Atom version is a little less than the top spec Surface RT.

      Interesting they didn't try commenting on all Windows 8 Tablets across the board to get a higher sales figure.

      When they comment on Windows in general, I think they tend to list how many "Installs" there have been so far, which I think includes installs done by companies like Dell, it doesn't mean every machine in that number has been sold. That's another way they could have inflated figures if they wanted, "Windows RT Installs".

      Give it a few months and after christmas there will be a lot more competition. If the Surface RT was £200-£299 it would compete a lot better with the iPad, I bet there will be RT tablets in this price range within 6 months, even if they aren't surface devices.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay to expensive

      "Waaaaaaaaaaaay to expensive" to the tune of "is the the way to Armadillo"?

      1. Keith 72

        Re: Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay to expensive

        I know... too many 'a's and one too few 'o's.

  15. Select * From Handle

    Surface Sales may be crap because

    Like i, People might be waiting for Surface with Windows 8 Pro to come out as that will be a really small table/laptop. But if the Windows 8 Pro version costs more it might be a deal breaker for me.

    1. N13L5

      Re: Surface Sales may be crap because

      "People might be waiting for Surface with Windows 8 Pro to come out as that will be a really small table/laptop."

      Here's something that seems to escape a lot of people when thinking about the Surface keyboard:

      This is a "Foil" type keyboard, which is absolute crap if you actually going to use this for any amount of typing.

      You'd be 100x better off if you bought ANY old tablet and a matching bluetooth keyboard from Logitech or Genius or any number of Chinese bluetooth keyboard knockoffs.

  16. ForthIsNotDead

    Me thinks...

    You'll be able to pick these up for £199 in six months.

    Microsoft think they can copy the Apple model and the thicko's, er, great-unwashed, er general public will just buy them like zombies.

    Not so: If you want the Apple experience, you have to buy their hardware. If you want the MS experience, you can just go buy the DVD and install it on your laptop. What do I need to buy MS hardware *for*?

    If MS want to be Apple, then they need to stop selling Windows (all versions) as shrink wrapped products, and become box-shifters. Like Apple.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Me thinks...

      "Microsoft think they can copy the Apple model and the thicko's, er, great-unwashed, er general public will just buy them like zombies."

      Oh, the irony, not being able to write "thickos". Also, it's "methinks", and even written properly, it makes you look like Cuger Brant.

  17. Big_Ted

    "Given the general dropping sales in the PC business coupled with Microsoft’s relatively small inventory of Surface machines, it’ll be interesting to see IF Surface can hit Microsoft’s million milestone. "

    There, fixed the last line for you.

    It was obvious from the start that unless MS released the RT at the rumored $199 price pointthen it would be a big fail.

    No-one will buy a tablet that is the same price as an ipad unless they are specifically looking to buy it for the OS.

    A top end transformer or Samsung can sale as people want android not iOS and the best hardware with it on, otherwise they pay the same and buy an ipad. If this had come out at the $199 range even if an extra $50 for the special keyboard then it would have sold as can be seen by how many here said they would get won at that price.

    MS once again have misread the market and realeased something that is overpriced for what it is but unusually lacking in features whereas other software like say word is packed with them that most people never even know about lat alone use.

    1. Robert Grant Silver badge

      Yep agreed

      And it doesn't help that the Surface has a bigger markup than the iPad. MS should release it at cost and get a market in place. They ALWAYS seem to mess up some aspect of things these days.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      the OEM problem

      MS can't afford to sell it as a loss-leader because none of the OEMs will make Windows tablets (remember the OEMs need to pay MS for the software licenses). Many of the tablet OEMs are also computer manufacturers and might be tempted to show MS the finger on PC software in retaliation.

      What MS cannot afford is that their hitherto loyal/trapped (depending on your perspective) OEMs start pushing high-end Android devices as an alternative to consumer laptops. e.g. an 11.6" Transformer-like device could wreak havoc in the back-to-school market.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    The great unknown

    It also doesn't help that the advertising doesn't exactly say or show what it is - a few people who know I work in IT have asked me "what's that new Microsoft thing with the dancers?" As I said on here when the ad first appeared, all it says about Surface is essentially: oblong, flap, multi-coloured keyboards, dancing. Very energetic, but what is it and what does it *do* and what is it *for*? At least other vendors actually show the thing they're selling in use, be it a phone, a tablet, a laptop, whatever, even if the way they're using it (playing a piano, splitting the atom) isn't what the majority of people will actually use it for.

    1. BigAndos

      Re: The great unknown

      Yeah, the ad is completely pointless - agency gone mad I think. My girlfriend (who is not at all tech savvy) had no idea what it was showing. They should do an ad just showing it in action, I've always thought tech ads are a bit overblown. I want to know what it is, what features it has and how much it costs. If those equate to something I need I'll buy it, I don't care if the ad has hundreds of people dancing.

    2. Paul Shirley

      Re: The great unknown

      I believe the ad perfectly captures the essence of both Metro and Surface - all style, no substance.

      A market Apple already own ;)

      1. Lord Voldemortgage

        Re: The great unknown

        Hmm, we say this is a terrible ad but it has non-techy colleagues and girlfriends asking about it so it may be doing its job.

      2. Chris 3

        Re: The great unknown

        Except the Apple ads *do* tend to major on specific applications.

  19. Criminny Rickets

    How to stock up

    "the company has run out of the cheapest 32-GB units in the US and the UK at times, although they are back in stock again."

    I wonder if that is from people returning them?

  20. Paul Shirley

    is there SEC reporting event due?

    ...'cause I can't imagine Ballmer saying this without a 'going to prison/mass shareholder lawsuit' scale legal threat in the background... though either would only hasten his sacking by a few months.

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  22. TheElder

    Buy a Surface?

    Buy a Microsoft Surface? Not bloody likely. This is direct from the warranty statement from the MS Store web site in Canada:

    "... use in countries not listed in the warranty may void the warranty and your product may not be eligible for in warranty or paid warranty service."

    So I void my warranty if I so much as turn it on in an unapproved country and they won't even let me pay them to fix it? They must be joking but unfortunately it doesn't seem so. Perhaps they have been smoking something...

    It also says the included Office Home and Student software is " not for use in commercial, nonprofit, or revenue generating activities." So what does that leave? Staring at the nonexistent start button?

  23. GurnyGub

    I think everyone's missing the point; this is the first time Ballmer and modest have been used in the same sentence.

  24. Divefrosty

    Returning the Surface

    I bought the the 64GB Surface with the touch Keyboard and liked it for a couple of days......then....things started o happen.

    1. The Screen would get the shakes.

    2. The Keyboard wouldn't pop up when I selected something to type in and the touch keyboard wouldn't work either.

    3. It started switching between the different apps I had opened all on it's own.

    4. It wouldn't come out of sleep mode last night. (had to hold the power button down for a while to get it to reboot.)

    5. Not very many apps yet which is expected, but charging for such simple things as Angry Birds??? WTF!! (but that's the publishers fault really)

    So guess what....I'm sending mine back, it's not mature enough yet.

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