EXCLUSIVE: Retailers in Australia are set to start selling the struggling Microsoft Surface tablet with JB Hi Fi confident that they will have stock in store prior to Christmas.Other retailers that will stock Microsoft’s Surface RT tablet will be Harvey Norman.
Scott Browning, the Marketing Director of JB Hi Fi, said “We have been talking to Microsoft for some time about selling their Surface tablet. It’s now a question of stock levels and whether we can get the device into stores prior to Christmas.”
Initially Microsoft said they would only sell the device online or via their own US stores, but as sales failed to eventuate the big software company has moved to mass retailers in an effort to get exposure for their new tablet offering.
Browning said “This is a product that needs to be exposed to a consumer; they need to touch and feel it and only retail stores can do this. Online is a commodity sell and if a consumer does not know the product or has not seen it in store it is always going to be harder to sell online”.
SmartHouse understands that Microsoft will not discount the product out to shift stock of the ARM-based tablets running the Windows RT operating system.
Since going on sale in October the Microsoft tablet has struggled to attract consumers.
Research Group IDC claims Microsoft will struggle to sell between 500,000 and 600,000 of their Surface tablets in the December quarter. They had hoped to sell millions of units prior to Christmas.
In January, Microsoft’s Surface Pro, which is based on Intel’s Core i5 and runs Windows 8, is expected to go on sale. The device will retail for $899 will be sold in retail stores and via solution providers.
The move by Microsoft Australia to sell their tablets in mass retail stores has upset several of their traditional Windows partners.
One Windows partner said today “We said initially the Surface would not sell online. Now they are moving into retail stores in a move that could hurt sales of our own Android based and Windows based tablet PCs”.
Recently the Taiwanese research group Digitimes claimed Microsoft cut its Surface RT orders by half, from four million to two million, citing supply chain sources.
Late last month Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was quoted by Le Parisien as saying Surface RT sales started off “modestly.”