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Microsoft Aims to Sell Millions Of Surface Tablets in 1st Year

By - Source: ZDNet | B 38 comments

Ballmer is dreaming big with the Surface.

Microsoft surprised everyone when it unveiled two own-brand Surface tablets last month. Since then, it's become quite clear that Microsoft has invested an awful lot of time and money into the project and isn't playing around. So, just how well is Microsoft expecting the Surface to do?

According to Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft told attendees at Worldwide Partner Keynote in Toronto that the company expects to sell several million Surface units in the next year. "I actually thought I heard Ballmer say 'a few millions,' with an 's,'" Foley wrote on her All About Microsoft Blog.

The fact that Microsoft is so ambitious is no surprise. After all, the company took a pretty big risk with its hardware partners in developing its own device. Since the company unveiled the Surface, many have been asking if Microsoft has lost faith in its partners. Another theory is that it was trying to give them an incentive to get to work on better devices of their own. And, now that the company has taken this step with tablets, there's questions as to whether they'll make the same move with Windows Phone. Steve Ballmer has said the company is concentrating on Surface for now, but didn't rule out the possibility of a Microsoft-brand Windows Phone.

Foley believes such lofty ambitions tell us that Microsoft is firmly in the hardware business and doesn't plan to go anywhere anytime soon. Of course, the company is no stranger to hardware, already manufacturing the likes of the Xbox, a plethora of mice and keyboards, and, at one point, the Zune. Still, it will be interesting to see how Redmond does with tablets. And who knows, if things go well with the surface, the company may build a phone, too.

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Top Comments
  • 20 Hide
    internetlad , July 11, 2012 4:57 PM
    I, for one, Think that this has been M$ plan all along, and honestly it's a good plan. Win8 is obviously geared towards non-traditional use (IE tablets and touchscreens over desktops.) and Win8, while being obviously bashed by many people on the home desktop marketplace, is pretty damn slick on a good tablet (If you've used Win8 for any extended amount of time on a Samsung Slate or the like, you'll know what i'm talking about.)

    The big thing is the functionality. You're not paying for a stripped down, angry birds playing iOS platform, this is a full fledged OS we're talking about, for better and worse. Taking your MS office on the go in a proper, familiar platform, people will enjoy. Getting a malware infection and having to figure out how to reformat your tablet? Ehhhh. . . not so much.

    Although i'm not exactly "excited" about the tablet craze upcoming and current, It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Tablets don't have the horsepower I expect to do what I want to do, but I might end up with one to remote into my home PC for when i'm on the go, that IS a tantalizing thought.


    In the end, it will come down to functionality (which is lacking in iOS) Stability (which is often lacking in early MS OS builds, think vista.) and having the proper hardware for the job. With M$ putting out the hardware, they control all 3 of those factors and it's all on them, for better or worse.
Other Comments
  • 8 Hide
    kartu , July 11, 2012 4:39 PM
    Chinese plan to sell 50 million per month.
    So selling millions annually doesn't sound as much.
  • -6 Hide
    DjEaZy , July 11, 2012 4:46 PM
    ... dream on..
  • Display all 38 comments.
  • 20 Hide
    internetlad , July 11, 2012 4:57 PM
    I, for one, Think that this has been M$ plan all along, and honestly it's a good plan. Win8 is obviously geared towards non-traditional use (IE tablets and touchscreens over desktops.) and Win8, while being obviously bashed by many people on the home desktop marketplace, is pretty damn slick on a good tablet (If you've used Win8 for any extended amount of time on a Samsung Slate or the like, you'll know what i'm talking about.)

    The big thing is the functionality. You're not paying for a stripped down, angry birds playing iOS platform, this is a full fledged OS we're talking about, for better and worse. Taking your MS office on the go in a proper, familiar platform, people will enjoy. Getting a malware infection and having to figure out how to reformat your tablet? Ehhhh. . . not so much.

    Although i'm not exactly "excited" about the tablet craze upcoming and current, It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Tablets don't have the horsepower I expect to do what I want to do, but I might end up with one to remote into my home PC for when i'm on the go, that IS a tantalizing thought.


    In the end, it will come down to functionality (which is lacking in iOS) Stability (which is often lacking in early MS OS builds, think vista.) and having the proper hardware for the job. With M$ putting out the hardware, they control all 3 of those factors and it's all on them, for better or worse.
  • 4 Hide
    beardguy , July 11, 2012 5:13 PM
    @ internetlad

    You have some good points. I agree, IOS is a locked-down, very limited OS. Android, while not nearly as locked down as IOS, is still very limited in functionality compared to a desktop OS. Tablets are currently a strange breed, they are not quite a PC and not quite phone. If the future of desktop PC's is to go the way of the tablet (albeit they will look much different) then Microsoft could certainly be on to something.

    Historically though, Microsoft has tried the same thing and failed bad. Taking a fully-fledged desktop OS and trying to make it work on a tablet by only adding "touch" was a huge fail. At least this time they are incorporating the Metro UI for tablet, and the user can also access the full OS if desired.

    If Microsoft is successful, the future will be in making an OS where ALL the complex functionality works seamless on a tablet. In other words, Metro UI will be all that there is on tablet ... but it will include everything that currently exists on a desktop PC in a seamless manner. As it stands, I see Surface Tablets as being merely a transition device for the future.
  • -9 Hide
    killerclick , July 11, 2012 5:17 PM
    Microsoft just doesn't get it. A tablet is nothing like a PC and consumers don't want it to be anything like a PC. That's why Tablet PC failed and that's why Surface Pro will fail. It will be too expensive, too heavy and too thick. The fact that it can run x86 applications means what, exactly? Is anybody going to drop $700 for Photoshop so they can run it on a 10" screen on a crippled ULV processor? That keyboard is nice in theory, but pointless, since you can't use that kickstand properly on your lap, so you need furniture to use the physical keyboard. That's some portability.

    Surface RT will fail because it has nothing on Android tablets or the iPad. It will only have 1366x768, Tegra 3 (which will be almost a year old when RT is released), it will have relatively few apps to begin with, but it will be as expensive as the iPad and top-of-the-line Android tablets. It's a brand new software ecosystem, and a user interface that failed to materialize phone sales in Windows Phone 7 (and probably won't in WP8 either).
  • 6 Hide
    Nakal , July 11, 2012 5:37 PM
    I don't know. You may see these in enterprise environments because they will probably be easily manageable through the existing Microsoft AD ecosystem. That is something you cannot do easily right now with Android and iOS. I could see my IT shop choosing these over IPADs and Android for that reason alone.
  • -3 Hide
    lradunovic77 , July 11, 2012 5:41 PM
    Microsoft doesn't get that Tablet is not PC. Surface is trying to be both and will end up as failure just like Windows 8 is trying to be Desktop and Tablet OS and in fact will not be good for anything. If you think touch is future way of computing you are badly mistaken just like Microsoft. Future way of computing in virtual reality and touch was and is unnatural way to do thing on screen which means there is nothing more efficient than mouse and mouse click action along with keyboard. Just because touch works on smart phone means that it wont work anything bigger than tablet. Anything bigger due size of screen in front you is becoming stupid and not practical therefore Windows 8 should have clear separation meaning Metro should be pushed only on PM devices.

    Industry badly needs to introduce new terminology called PM -> Personal Mobile which is nothing like PC we use today.
  • 0 Hide
    djscribbles , July 11, 2012 5:44 PM
    Personally, the ability to be both a tablet and a laptop is quite attractive imo. The desktop OS may (or may not) suck, but having a good tablet interface with the ability to do actual computer stuff with it by going desktop mode; if I was the sort to run out and buy this kind of stuff, I would be tempted to do so; fortunately, I like to keep my money so that one day I can fill a swimming pool with it.
  • 0 Hide
    math1337 , July 11, 2012 5:48 PM
    They might have a chance with the surface pro(as long as it is the right price)

    Surface RT, though, does not have the desktop, so it has almost nothing on android/ios slates.
  • 0 Hide
    Hellbound , July 11, 2012 5:50 PM
    I would like to know the price of this thing..
  • 0 Hide
    devanhorn , July 11, 2012 6:03 PM
    Being a graphics designer and digital photo geek the RT is a no-go. The Pro with i5 however is very intriguing. I feel a lot of creative’s will jump on this platform. The standard USB connection and 16:9 format is just what they want in something you can hold in one hand at ~1.5 pounds and use in the field. That is where you will see PhotoShop, Illustrator, Sketchbook Pro, AutoCad, etc. and the capability to do "real" work with a tablet and not just play around. Companies might just drool over this since it is MS OS and melds with 99% of corporate IT support.

    I commend MS for pushing the envelope. I actually though Apple would have done this first with the retinal display, but they let us sorts down. If this works half as well as they expect I see a lot of companies getting into power-tablets, which can only be a good thing for all users.
  • 3 Hide
    CaedenV , July 11, 2012 6:08 PM
    killerclickMicrosoft just doesn't get it. A tablet is nothing like a PC and consumers don't want it to be anything like a PC. That's why Tablet PC failed and that's why Surface Pro will fail. It will be too expensive, too heavy and too thick. The fact that it can run x86 applications means what, exactly? Is anybody going to drop $700 for Photoshop so they can run it on a 10" screen on a crippled ULV processor? That keyboard is nice in theory, but pointless, since you can't use that kickstand properly on your lap, so you need furniture to use the physical keyboard. That's some portability.Surface RT will fail because it has nothing on Android tablets or the iPad. It will only have 1366x768, Tegra 3 (which will be almost a year old when RT is released), it will have relatively few apps to begin with, but it will be as expensive as the iPad and top-of-the-line Android tablets. It's a brand new software ecosystem, and a user interface that failed to materialize phone sales in Windows Phone 7 (and probably won't in WP8 either).

    remember that MS's largest consumers are businesses, and there are a lot of businesses who have been waiting for a Win8 tablet just for the security/domain features. The Surface will be a huge sell to this crowd because you have full office on both platforms, and the x86 will allow you to use real programs like quickbooks, database/invintory software, and several other enterprise style input programs. You are right that nobody is going to be running Photoshop on these, but you are so short sighted to think that a company facing the decision of spending millions of $$ in developing iOS and Android apps, compared to dropping $700 per device, and be able to reuse the existing software.

    All the same I think Millions is a bit optomistic for the 1st year, because there is going to be a lot of skepticism for people moving to win8. But I think once people realize that Metro is here to stay then they will see the numbers start climbing very quickly in year 2.

    Either way, if I was in the market for a tablet and had the choice between Android, iOS, and Win8 x86 I would choose Win8 every time. Put the choice of Win8RT in there... well then Android may stand a chance, but the inclusion of office may win me over to RT if it came to such a decision.
  • 2 Hide
    CaedenV , July 11, 2012 6:13 PM
    HellboundI would like to know the price of this thing..

    ~$700-1200 for the i5 version (a bit pricy, but you get a lot for your money)
    ~$500-900 for the ARM version (way too high in my opinion)
    We do not know exact pricing as the product is not out yet, but these should be in the right ball part at least from low to high end versions.
  • -4 Hide
    digiex , July 11, 2012 6:32 PM
    Quote:
    the company may build a phone, too.


    They had a phone...
  • -2 Hide
    jhansonxi , July 11, 2012 6:35 PM
    Millions of sales is certainly possible but at what price? WebOS systems sold poorly until the HP fire sale.
  • -5 Hide
    ProDigit10 , July 11, 2012 7:10 PM
    they better be giving a good price then, $100-$150 street value if they want to compete in the market!
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , July 11, 2012 7:12 PM
    CaedenV has it correct. The consumer market is of secondary importance to Microsoft. The enterprise rules their thinking, and often that does not coincide with how the consumers wish to operate. The business media (CNBC, FOX Business, Bloomberg) all act as if Microsoft is some sort of collection of village idiots, but Apple are all geniuses. The Windows Phone is a perfect example. They crucify MSFT for not making the mobile version of Win 8 compatible with prior phones without acknowledging that Apple does this frequently. They talk about how "lack of apps" is a reason not to purchase Winphone but it doesn't seem to be a barrier to purchase journalism's beloved MacBook. iOS app numbers are a tiny percentage of Windows, and that's before we even get into the vertical market applications.

    It seems like only a few years ago that we were hearing Office was going to die at the hands of open-source apps such as StarOffice. MSFT comes out with Sharepoint and, wham, puts a stop to that talk. Reminds me of the phrase "reports of my demise are premature." MSFT and Apple are both huge, and will be for the foreseeable future. Apple in the consumer market, MSFT in the business enterprise.
  • 0 Hide
    teh_chem , July 11, 2012 7:31 PM
    digiexThey had a phone...

    MS never designed/built the phone though. Only the OS. They relied on hardware manufacturers for the devices.

    Though I thought the rumor of MS actually building their own phone was shot-down already?
  • 2 Hide
    belardo , July 11, 2012 7:41 PM
    Yep... had a phone.... they killed the KIN.... which was WP6.5 (no tiles).

    CaedenVremember that MS's largest consumers are businesses, and there are a lot of businesses who have been waiting for a Win8 tablet just for the security/domain features. The Surface will be a huge sell to this crowd because you have full office on both platforms, and the x86 will allow you to use real programs like quickbooks, database/invintory software, and several other enterprise style input programs.

    FAIL! Windows7 tablets have been around for about 2 years. They run the same software TODAY that Win8 tablets will run tomorrow. At $1200~1600 each, they are not exactly flying off the shelves... they are regulated mostly as mail-order devices and consumers are NOT buying them.

    Windows8 x86 tablets are not going to change that much... If the whole point is to run desktop software. And the Metro software base is weak and the WART tablets are useless.

    There are not going to be any if but a few WART brands besides MS. With them charging $75~80 per licence, the profit for the partners is $0. There is no reason to bother... many have already canceled and/or pushing their Android tablets. (cough HP)

    Yes, the MS Tablet looks nice... its what you can do when you have the money to build something like that. MS will make it for a year or so... sell a thousands of the x86 models.... maybe 500,000 of the WART ones... then give up and shut down the line.

    Welcome to ZUNE 3.0
  • -3 Hide
    belardo , July 11, 2012 7:52 PM
    I think one of the reasons MS isn't doing well in the PHONE market is because they made the KINS, twice... and dropped support of them instantly. Buy a brand new WP7 device today, no support tomorrow either. Its also a dead end.

    Buy an iPhone 3Gs or 4 or an Android today, everything works tomorrow... and will handle OS upgrades.
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