Steve Ballmer Remains Conservative On Surface Tablet Sales, But Could Break Million Of Units

Ballmer Surface Tablet Sales

On day one of the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, the company’s CEO – Steve Ballmer – said last-months-unveiled Surface tablets could sell a few million units.

Surface might not widely available later this year, but Microsoft thinks it can succeed with the Windows 8 tablet

When Microsoft unveiling its duo of Surface tablets for Windows 8, it was revealed the devices will be available in Microsoft Stores and some online retailers. For a flagship device to show OEMs how Windows 8 tablet design should be that seemed odd, but CEO Steve Ballmer reckons the company could break a million units.

Ballmer reiterated at the Conference that Surface isn’t designed to compete with OEMs; it’s effectively a catalogue of devices, designed to offer the perfect PC for every user. Third-party manufacturers such as HP have pulled out of building tablets for Windows ARM/RT, the version of Windows 8 designed with tablets in mind but more feature limited (no support for legacy apps, for example). Equally, rumors this week suggested Samsung was building an ARM/RT tablet for releasing around October. That would be a big endorsement for Microsoft.

Millions Of Units

Ballmer also added that the company may sell a few million units. It’s estimated 375 million Windows 8 devices will sell next year, so there’s plenty of room for OEMs. I still think it could be difficult for the average consumer to know which product is best for them without succumbing to the store representative who’s probably out to get the most commission for him or her.

It’s unfortunate Microsoft is being conservative with its retail push for Surface, because the tablets was very well received and offered some features the iPad didn’t (USB, Windows itself). The Nexus 7 tablet is a very solid device, but it doesn’t have the ecosystem to support apps that are built for the tablets form factor. It also doesn’t have the mind share in the tablet space Apple has, or the huge operating system to appeal to non-tech consumers. Windows is known by everyone, so talk of a 10-inch tablets running Windows 8 is definitely going to pique interest.

Microsoft Surface will launch around the general availability of Windows, according to Microsoft’s Steven Sinofsky, which we know is going to be late October.


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Jonathan is a writer on the technology and video game industries. He is comfortable with using Mac OS X and Windows; he began using Windows with Windows XP during his early double-digit years, and started using OS X in 2009 on a MacBook Pro. He began gaming on the SNES back in the 90s.

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