Microsoft sells out of Surface Pro, just like the Zune HD did in 2009
February 9th, 2013
Daniel Eran Dilger
Microsoft appears to be “sold out” of its 128GB tablet/notebook hybrid Surface Pro. Good news or bad?
A Windows Enthusiast explains what selling out means
Selling out of your inventory means “the market has spoken,” says Ed Bott of ZDNet.
After being reminded that the Surface RT also “sold out” before becoming a clear flop in the winter quarter, Bott issued a clarification to explain why readers shouldn’t connect the dots and arrive at the conclusion that the Surface Pro selling out might not be an indication that it is actually selling well.
The fact that the low end model of the Surface RT sold out “suggests that buyers of the RT device were price-sensitive and were looking for something with a tablet-like price,” Bott answered.
“By contrast, the initial sell-out of the higher-priced 128 GB Surface Pro suggests early buyers are spec-sensitive and are skeptical of the available storage in the 64 GB device.”
So there you have it: “selling out” of a specific model represents a clear indication of exactly what customers want in real time. This is because subtracting an unknown number of sales from an unknown number of units in inventory provides clear proof that an unknown number of events have occurred.
Comparing this unknown number of sales events with a parallel figure derived by subtracting an unknown number of sales from an unknown number of units in inventory of a second model simply provides reliable proof that Microsoft is an unstoppable force in tablet computing. Whew! the iPad nightmare is over.
A sell out explains what Windows Enthusiasm means
Perhaps, however, it is possible that Microsoft just isn’t very good at producing and managing global sales channel inventories of a hardware product it has never sold before.
Even Apple, which has demonstrated spectacular skill and finesse in operational management over the past decade, has flubbed its production and shipments now and again. Except that when Apple does it, it’s clearly a case of leaving money on the table and failing to perform as well as it should have.
In the winter quarter, Apple screwed up iMac sales and didn’t accurately forecast the demand for either iPhone 4 or iPhone 5. On top of that, it couldn’t produce iPads fast enough to meet demand. “Selling out” for Apple is a problem, not a pile of horseshit for its fans to interpret as a Christmas pony waiting for them around the corner.
When Apple sells out, its most rabid fans take the company to task for screwing up. When failed products sell out, their fans hold up the inventory problem as evidence that somebody is actually buying a product that professional reviewers are expressing annoyance and disappointment over.
This all happened before
Unfortunately for Ed Bott and the “Surface Must Be Successful, Damn the Reviews” crowd, this isn’t isn’t the first time Microsoft has sold out of a product that subsequently did so poorly that the company abandoned the entire business.
Remember the Zune HD? That was just over three years ago in 2009, back before Microsoft scrambled to port Windows 7 to the ARM architecture for the Surface RT. It was widely reported to have “sold out” from Amazon to Newegg to BestBuy. Two years later it was discontinued because in reality it never sold well.
Sell out flops
Other devices that were reported by major news sources as having “sold out” include the 2009 flop of the WebOS Palm Pre. Last fall, even several Windows Phone 8 models “sold out,” alongside “sold out” sales of Google’s blockbuster dud, the Nexus Q. Sony’s flop, the PS Vita, was also reported to have “sold out” among some retailers.
Google also “sold out” of the Nexus 4 last fall, before it was deduced from serial numbers that it had only actually produced just 400,000 units of it over the entire quarter. Shockingly, you can “sell out” of a device just by not producing very many of them.
This was not unprecedented. In 2010 Google’s original Nexus One was also reported to have “sold out” before being canceled as a flop just months later.
Remember RIM? The company was reported to have “sold out” of its Blackberry Bold in late 2011, just years after the company had lost all relevance in the smartphone industry. How’d that work out?
In other news, the new Blackberry Z10 is currently reported to have “sold out” in the UK. So watch your back Windows Phone 8! There’s a new sell out in town ready to fight you for a very distant third place in the smartphone business.