Surface Pro Tablets Remain Scarce After First Weekend of Sales
On Monday, February 11, I called the Microsoft Store again. Not only were they out of Surface Pro models, they didn’t know when they would have more of them in stock. I talked to one of the store employees who suggested that if I could find a 64GB Surface Pro, I could put a 64 GB memory card in the slot on the side of the device, and it would provide the needed memory. But of course then you lose the use of the slot. Unfortunately, neither Microsoft Store nor Best Buy has any additional information about when they would get more Surface Pro tablets in stock. replenished. The employee at the Best Buy computer department did let me know that the display model was still there, and that I was welcome to come try it out. After calling the various stores in my area that were supposed to be selling the Surface Pro and striking out, I checked the Microsoft on-line store. The 64 GB Surface Pro was available for sale on Monday, but the 128 GB version was still sold out. Initially, at least, the Surface Pro seems to be a success. Microsoft experienced Apple-like lines and sold out every device it had almost immediately. Not a bad start. But then there’s the next question. Why the immediate sell out? There have been all sorts of theories going around the blogosphere imagining a vast conspiracy to drive demand. I don’t think it’s that complicated. I think that Microsoft underestimated demand because the indicators of strong demand appeared so late in the product cycle that the company was caught off-guard.While it would be fun to speculate that Microsoft was manipulating the purported supply of Surface tablet to fire up publicity by creating the illusion of high demand. I think the simplest explanation is the best. Microsoft didn’t want to be like Hewlett-Packard and have huge quantities of unsold tablets sitting around in stores, so the company estimated sales conservatively, figuring it could always build more. It looks like Microsoft is going to need to get busy and build more in a hurry.
Remember, analyst reports that the Surface Pro market could be 200 million strong just among IT pros only surfaced the just the week before launch. Even if Microsoft saw such reports and ramped up production, those units wouldn’t be in stores yet. The supply chain isn’t instantaneous. Worse, Surface sales seem to be outpacing Microsoft’s ability to keep up. Microsoft vice president Panos Panay said in a blog entry that retail outlets still had the 64 GB version of the Surface. Guess, what? They don’t.