It appears sales of Microsoft's Surface RT tablet may have only performed half as well as analysts expected during Q4 2012. Industry researcher Brent Thill of UBS said that Microsoft only sold about one million units -- that's one million short of the firm's earlier forecast. Another analyst is estimating sales even below one million, but Microsoft has yet to weigh in with its own official sales numbers.
One million is a big number and certainly a success by most standards. However, to add a little perspective, one million units is about five percent of Apple's iPad sales during the same period.
By Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's own admission, initial Surface sales were "modest". Thill summed up reasons for Surface's lackluster sales succinctly, "Surface RT is a consumer device with sales suffering from the difficult iPad compare and narrow distribution." However, the analyst expects better numbers from the more expensive Surface Pro, a non-RT Windows 8 tablet which hopes to find a home somewhere between tablets and ultrabooks.
Surface's tepid debut was largely attributed to its limited distribution channels -- Microsoft stores -- and not necessarily lack of customer interest. In fact, Microsoft seemed to frequently sell out of Surface tablets, a fact which certainly didn't help sales figures. Microsoft's narrow distribution channel though, was likely fueled by the software maker's second issue with Surface: limited production capacity arising from partner limitations and Redmond's exacting specifications.
Despite modest sales, Microsoft purportedly still found itself needing to halve production merely a month after launch. This was probably the first tell-tale sign that Surface sales would be about half of industry expectations. At the time, IHS iSuppli speculated Microsoft may sell 1.3 million units during Q4 -- maybe. It appears IHS' then-conservative figures may have still overshot Surface's success.
The Microsoft Surface features a 10.6-inch Gorilla Glass display and a vapor-deposited magnesium chassis, the Surface runs a Core i5 Ivy Bridge processor and the latter packing an ARM-based Nvidia chip. The Touch Cover measures 3mm thick and has a multitouch keyboard as well as a trackpad, with a Touch Cover, the Surface measures just shy of half an inch.
The Apple iPad (3rd-gen) includes a Retina Display operating at a resolution of 2,048 x 1,536. Powering the new iPad is a dual-core A5X processor with quad-core graphics, it also gets upgraded optics in the form of a 5MP backside illuminated sensor that features a 5-element lens, IR filter and ISP built into the A5X chip. Apple claims The new iPad is good for 10 hours of battery life and nine hours when using 4G LTE.
The iPad mini is a smaller version of the iPad and it’s much more than just a shrunken-down iPad. The iPad Mini packs a dual-core A5 processor, dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, a FaceTime HD camera, 5-megapixel rear iSight camera with 1080p recording and an optional LTE radio. The Mini sports a 7.9-inch display and 1,024 x 768 resolution. Battery life is estimated at 10 hours.
The Google Nexus 7 has the distinction of being the first device to run the Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean" operating system. It measures 198.5mm x 120mm x 10.45mm in size, weighs 340g, and features a 7-inch IPS display that is protected by scratch-resistant glass. The Nexus sports a 1280 x 800 pixel display. It runs a quad-core Tegra 3 processor and 1GB of RAM, it also comes in 2 versions: 8GB and 16GB capacities.
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