Are Microsoft’s Tablet Prices Crushing Sales?

Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) tablets, the Surface RT and Surface Pro, have seen a fair bit of media attention — sometimes less than positive — but haven’t received so much consumer attention. A quick sell-out of Surface models could reveal hints about what Microsoft can do to change that.

As Microsoft hasn’t been releasing sales data for its Surface RT or the recently-released Surface Pro, there’s a limit on information available for assessing the relative success of the tablet launches. One of the most telling tidbits is that the various models of the Surface quickly sold out after the launch of the Surface Pro and the appearance of a coupon from Staples (NASDAQ:SPLS).

The top-of-the-line model, the 128 GB Surface Pro, sold out almost immediately after it launched on Saturday. The trouble is that it’s not clear if the supply was too low or if the demand was really substantial. While conspiracy theorists think Microsoft set up the launch to have the device sell out and spark consumer interest, others think that stores just didn’t order many Surface Pros after the weak performance of the Surface RT.

The Surface RT and 64 GB Surface Pro might not have cleared the shelves so quickly, but there was a temporal tie between the release of a $75-off coupon for Windows computers at Staples and the sale of all of Staples’ remaining 64GB Surface RT and Surface Pro devices at its online store. Meanwhile, The Microsoft Store and Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) didn’t see their stock of the devices get snatched up.

The quick purchase suggests that consumers might not agree with Microsoft’s pricing of the tablets and that high demand may be held back by the price issue. The Surface Pros do have their own issues with hard-drive space being eaten up by the operating system, which may also factor into the quick sales of the larger-storage device and the slower sales of the smaller-storage device.

As more devices supply the market in a more stable manner, the subsequent sales — or lack of sales — should paint a clearer picture of just how Microsoft’s tablets can perform in the market against well-established competitors.

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