Microsoft (barely) sells a million Surface units

surface tv spot ss

If you’re Microsoft, January can’t end too soon. The company’s Surface RT is taking a battering from the iPad, selling one million of the tablets during the holidays. According to one Wall Street observer, the consumer-oriented tablet has two strikes against it: being compared to Apple’s product and too little retail exposure.

The one million figure is less than half of the two million units previously forecast by UBS analyst Brent Thill. In December, IHS iSuppli projected Microsoft would sell just 1.3 million units of the Surface RT…

“Surface RT is a consumer device with sales suffering from the difficult iPad compare and narrow distribution,” Thill told investors Monday (via Cnet).

In December, a day after ad network Chitika announced the Surface had just 0.13 percent of tablet traffic, came news Microsoft would expand its retail presence, selling the tablet at Best Buy and Staples. Previously, the Surface was available only at Microsoft’s nationwide stores.

Of course, it didn’t help that Microsoft insisted the Surface match the iPad’s price. The pricing was a bit of faulty logic brought about by dreams of retaining PC profits in a tablet age.

For Microsoft, the hope now is for its tablet dreams to limp along until later this month, when the Surface Pro will finally be released. Unlike the RT, the Pro will run all Windows applications, including the firm’s latest Windows 8 offering.

Additionally, the Surface Pro will more likely catch the eye of Microsoft’s core audience: the enterprise.

By the way, Microsoft is“actively investigating” a Surface RT jailbreak.

Noting the Surface Pro has a more promising future, Thill expects Microsoft will sell 2.5 million Surface devices by June, when the company’s fiscal 2013 concludes. The analyst further expects sales of up to eight million Surface tablets for fiscal 2014.

Surface RT storage options

David Pogue of The New York Times was in a hotel room where Microsoft gave a few reporters an early look at the Surface Pro. He felt it was a game-changer:

But even if the Surface Pro is not strictly a laptop killer, it nonetheless changes the game. It’s a machine nobody’s built before, and it should get a lot of imaginations whirring.

For now, it looks as if the Surface Pro is, conceptually and practically, a home run. For thousands of people, it will be an ideal mobile companion. It will mean the end of the daily question: “Hmm, should I take my laptop or my iPad?”

Hopefully, Microsoft learns a lesson from the blip known as the Surface RT.

Like RIM, which thought it could duplicate a successful brand in the enterprise into an iPhone killer in the consumer sphere, anyone who believes they can come from enterprise sales to beat Apple in consumer sales is certifiable.

The consumer tablet race is between just two players: Apple and Samsung.

All other entries will simply be road-kill.