Are Surface Pro Waiters Hurting Surface RT Sales?

Microsoft Surface

Microsoft Surface – image courtesy of microsoft.com

At my local Microsoft store, I’ve gone to check out Microsoft Surface twice. Both times, it was packed with people interested in trying out the device. Every display unit was being used with people waiting in line. It would seem Surface is off to a good start. Why then was Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer recently quoted as stating Surface was off to a “modest” start?

Ballmer apparently explained the modest start was due to limited retail and online reach. Others have stated it is due to manufacturing not being quick enough to meet demand. While interest in Surface seems high, I’d argue there is another reason for the modest start. And, I think it’s probably the primary reason. You see, Microsoft also announced plans for a Pro version that is yet to be released. It seems many people are waiting on the Surface Pro version before deciding which to buy. So, should Microsoft have made the Pro version available now too? Or, did it make a mistake announcing there would be a Pro version, thus cannibalizing (sort-of) the current Surface’s sales, or at least delaying some sales?

Microsoft Surface RT vs. Pro

Choose? Users can only by RT now? So, the real choice is get RT… or wait for Pro.

Microsoft is doing the right thing in coming out with a Pro version. After all, you want to be the one to cannibalize sales of your products with a newer version rather than the competition doing it with their version. But, it was a mistake to announce it if it was not going to be made available alongside Surface RT. They should have kept their lips tight on it as they now have would-be buyers delaying their decision. I heard it from a few store visitors on both occasions. It’s also been a statement made on a few article comments about Surface I’ve come across. Furthermore, announcing Pro well ahead of its time gives the competition a clearer opportunity at developing their roadmap or introducing a device ahead of Pro that could trump it. While some might argue this may be the intent of Microsoft – it’s commonly understood Microsoft made Surface to push its hardware partners to innovate – in general, slow sales of Surface doesn’t leave a good impression for Windows 8.

The PR and marketing of Surface Pro will likely have little impact in terms of getting exposure once it becomes available. But, the early notice of Pro has likely hurt sales of Surface RT, and potentially Windows 8. This is despite early claims that Windows 8 was off to a fast sales pace. I know Microsoft well understands it’s the entire war not the battles but, battles define wars. I don’t recall Apple, during its recent iPad mini launch, announcing it will also soon make available a more powerful iPad mini too. With that mistake made, the sooner Pro becomes available, the better off Surface RT will be too, and Windows 8. Interested Microsoft customers will finally be able to make a purchasing decision. This is after having already announced Surface too far apart from the actual release date in the first place.

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