Microsoft announced pricing and specs for their forthcoming Surface tablet line last week and so far the news is good in terms of consumer demand. At least that’s the inference judging from their website, which now reports that 32GB units bundled with the black Touch cover are now ‘temporarily sold out’.
Of course it’s hard to take too much from this. The conspiracy theorists could claim that Microsoft could simply be reporting that preorders are ‘temporarily sold out’ to give the impression of a greater level of consumer demand than actually exists. Another theory–it could be a supply chain issue and the availability of the Touch cover is problematic. The Touch Cover is one of the main features of the Surface tablet. It attaches to the tablet magnetically and doubles as a keyboard. Microsoft is planning to sell these covers separately in several colors (black, white, magenta, cyan and red) for $119.
Worth noting that 32GB units *without* the Touch Cover are still available, as are 64GB units with the cover. This suggests that it could be a strategy to manipulate buyers to the higher priced/higher powered product. Microsoft claimed an early sellout of the 32 GB Surface tablets via their US website late last week and are now indicating the same for their UK facing web store. Late last week the UK tech press was reporting that all three models were still available to UK buyers and maybe today’s announcement is just an effort to preserve the ‘continuity’ across markets.
Regardless of what the pre-order status means–it could mean anything from a legitimate groundswell of consumer demand to an out and out manipulation by Microsoft–the company is optimistic about the Surface. Financial media sources have focused on component orders and internal memos which suggest that Microsoft expects to sell 3 to 5 million Surface units in the next quarter. The tech press and business analysts have reserved judgement–with pricing similar to that of the iPad the Surface will have to deliver a comparable if not superior user experience to cut into Apple’s market share. Their move into the market comes at a time when Apple is reportedly getting ready to release a smaller, cheaper version of the iPad to compete with Google’s Nexus 7 tablets and other competitors.