Microsoft Surface Pro, in a 'Sea of iPads,' Needs the Enterprise

By Craig Galbraith Comments
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Microsoft rolled out its Surface Pro tablet over the weekend, and so far, news about sales is good.

Despite what many consider to be a high price, the computer giant's website showed the 64GB and 128GB versions of the tablet to be out of stock Monday night. They are available not only online but at Microsoft retail outlets, Best Buy and Staples stores.

The flip side is that many stores carried only a handful of the tablets, and many were already presold before the first customer walked in the door.

“In its launch planning, Microsoft had to choose the lesser of two mobile device manufacturing evils," noted Carl Howe, Yankee Group's VP of research, commenting specifically on a Computerworld article. "If it stocked too many in stores, Surface Pro would be perceived as selling poorly. If it stocked too few, Surface would sell out fast, and the press would pillory Microsoft for not making enough. Clearly, it chose the latter course."

The 128GB version sells for $999, while the 64GB goes for $899. An attachable keyboard can be added for another $100. While that's more than you'll pay for an Apple iPad, Microsoft is really targeting the enterprise market with this version of the Surface, a market it must tap to be branded a success.

"Over the longer term, Surface Pro will only succeed if consumers and IT organizations actually buy and use the device in the field," Howe added. "The Surface Pro’s larger size and snap-on keyboard make it easy to spot, so if it’s a big seller, we should start seeing business people carrying them onto airplanes and into conferences within a few months. On the other hand, if presenters still look out into conference audiences and see only seas of Apple-logoed iPads in September, I expect to see Surface Pro fire sales to get unsold stock off Microsoft’s books. This is Microsoft’s sixth attempt to drive tablet PC products into the market; if this one fails, the market is sending Microsoft a clear message that it isn’t making tablet products that the market wants."

Follow senior online managing editor @Craig_Galbraith on Twitter.

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