Tools & Technologies

Microsoft Surface RT – The Surface Movement, all $900 Million of it

Back in November last year when I posted the above video to my blog, I wrote underneath: A fun ad for the Microsoft Surface RT. Of course, what remains to be seen is whether the vision the young man sees in his head truly become a reality, or is merely wishful thinking. Given the recent news out of Microsoft of a US$900 million write-down in inventory for the Surface RT, it would indicate it’s trending towards the latter.

Mary asks how this fiasco happened, and gets continued affirmation from Microsoft that it will keep investing in Windows RT and Surface RT:

The biggest question, to my mind, about today’s unexpected Surface RT write-down is how did Microsoft find itself in this predicament in the first place? How did officials seemingly misestimate the number of Surface RTs they should have made and how much they should have charged for them?

I had a chance to ask Brian Hall, the General Manager of Surface Marketing, that very question. Unsurprisingly, he wouldn’t address this. But he did say that Microsoft is 100 percent committed to Surface RT and Windows RT going forward and has no plans to drop work on either product.

At the now-reduced $350 price (plus another $100-plus per keyboard), Microsoft believes it is righly positioned for success with the product, its officials said today. Hall elaborated, by saying that Microsoft officials believe that by getting more Surface RTs into more users’ hands, demand will accelerate for the product.

Mary goes on to take the opposing view. Eg., there are too few apps in the Windows Store, its performance is sluggish, it is hard to find one to try out.

I have one data point to add: during my recent trip to Europe, I saw a couple of Windows / Surface stands in airports, such as Heathrow Terminal 5. That one had three staff members, and perhaps 20 devices on two sides of the table. I stood and watched for about five minutes, and only one person stopped, even with a constant stream of foot traffic. It was like the stand wasn’t even there.

Where to from here for Microsoft with the Surface RT? Is there any life in this offering, or was it doomed from the start? Matt wonders if the RT failure is a portent of even more failure – such as Windows itself.

Other perspectives:
– Richard says, it’s still early days. Microsoft will figure it out.
– Tim says, Microsoft should persevere. The problem was Microsoft manufactured too many in the first instance.

Categories: Tools & Technologies

2 replies »

  1. Why isn’t the Surface targeted to businesses? My Fortune 100 company can’t get ipads to connect properly, let alone securely, to our network and of course the ipad doesn’t actually run any of our business software. Seems like to perfect audience for the Surface. “Leave the shiny to the fruit, we’ve got work to do.”

  2. Derek, hi.
    The Surface (Pro) is targeted towards business. The Surface RT isn’t. The Surface Pro should indeed be the perfect device for your organization, given your profile. Have you tried one out?
    Michael.