Yesterday Microsoft unveiled the pricing on the Windows RT Surface tablet, and opened preorders for the Oct 26 release. Less than 24 hours later, the 32 GB standalone version is backlogged, going from an estimated 10/26 shipment date to “within 3 weeks”… which more or less means it has sold out. Does that mean Windows RT Surface is a success despite its seemingly ridiculous price tag? Not really.
First of all, to know if a tablet is “successful” or not, you need to define what “success” is. Is a tablet successful when it has sold 1 million units? Is a tablet successful if its preorders sell out? Is a tablet successful if it sells more preorders than the iPhone 5 (a dumb comparison, I know, but bear with me for the sake of argument). Only once you define what success is — and mind you not everyone will agree on the definition — only then can you decide if Windows RT Surface is a success by selling out or not.
More important than defining success, however, is knowing exactly how many units of the Windows RT Surface actually sold. Knowing that the 32 GB standalone version of Windows RT Surface has sold out within 24 hours does not tell us anything about how many units people actually bought. It could be that Microsoft only had 100 units to sell, and once 100 people bought them, the tablet went on backorder. I highly doubt anyone would call a sale of 100 units within 24 hours a success. On the flip side, if Microsoft had 1 million units available for preorder, then most people would probably agree that selling 1 million units within 24 hours is somewhat of a success. Maybe not Apple-like success, but success nonetheless.
Microsoft, of course, is being very coy about this. While there are rumors that Microsoft plans on selling 5 million Windows RT Surface tablets by the end of 2012, Microsoft has not told us how many units were available for preorder — only caring to mention there there is a limited preorder inventory. It could very well be that Microsoft purposefully limited preorder inventory to generate hype once it “sells out”.
Similarly, Microsoft also could have simply understocked the standalone 32 GB version in favor of the 32 GB + cover bundle or 64GB + cover bundled, to entice people to purchase these more expensive models — note that neither of the bundles have gone on backorder, meaning they haven’t been sold out.
A third important point to note is there isn’t much of a difference between the original “10/26” shipment date and “within 3 weeks” — only about 1.5 weeks more. Clearly the sell out isn’t that much, or the backorder would be longer.
So, knowing that the 32 GB standalone version of the Windows RT Surface tablet has gone on backorder essentially does not tell us a damn thing about how many people bought it. That means this article does nothing but earn me money via your page views. Thank you for reading this and making me $985,234,128,765,123.