Whispers among upstream component suppliers in Taipei suggest that Microsoft’s great tablet hope, the Surface RT, is more likely to meet just 60 percent of the company’s sales forecast by the end of the year.
Shy and retiring CEO Steve Ballmer recently admitted that Surface sales so far have been modest. Digitimes’ unnamed sources would agree, pointing out that the Surface RT has no advantage in terms of price and performance, while the lack of legacy software compatibility is also putting off consumers. Nor are they, the sources added, keen to use the Windows Store.
It’s also expected, according to Digitimes, that the device won’t be able to outperform the competition during the end of year holiday period, traditionally a goldmine for vendors with winning products. Instead, all the attention seems to be on the three-way battle for lower-end tablets between Google, Amazon, and Apple – itself caught on the back foot and forced to compete.
However, the sources claimed it is only Microsoft’s flagship device that is suffering – and that they expected Windows 8 tablets from vendors to benefit from the weaker than expected sales.
Manufacturing partners were left in the dark when Microsoft insisted on transforming itself from a software company to a hardware company with the Surface RT.
Although there was some hope for the product when details began leaking, the high retail price has led Redmond to repeat history: that is, the last time it tried to challenge Apple at hardware was with the ill-fated Zune MP3 player.
Microsoft will have another pop with an Intel-powered flavour of the Surface in early 2013.