Don’t believe the hype: Despite the flashy commercials and the Web buzz, Microsoft has less-than-jubilant news about initial sales for the Microsoft Surface. In an interview with French daily, Le Parisien, published Saturday, Microsoft’s chief executive, Steve Ballmer, admitted that sales were “starting modestly.” However, he pointed out that the slow start probably had something to do with the new tablet only being available online and in some stores, not due to a saturated, Apple-dominated tablet market.
Ballmer also threw a positive spin on an industry rumor that there’s a supply shortage. NASDAQ quoted Ballmer as saying it was a “good sign” and said that Microsoft was poised to tackle the problem in the upcoming quarter. Unfortunately, without actual numbers and sales figures, it’s impossible to know whether the shortage is due to an increase in purchases or simply an oversight in production. There have also been reports, uncovered by The Guardian, that the first batch of Surfaces have issues with cracking on the outside cover, however, Ballmer told Le Parisien that the company had plans for a higher-end version of the tablet, with a better processor and better screen, but it is unclear if it will include a better cover.
It’s ultimately disheartening news for the tablet market as whole. While it’s a healthy industry and bound to ramp up with the upcoming holiday season, consumers are left with a precarious position: Either take a chance on the Microsoft Surface or simply go with the tried, tested, and true iPad or the new iPad Mini. In fact, MarketWatch projections for the Surface have it selling between three and five million during the fiscal year, while the iPad moved around 14 million units in Q3 alone.
Regardless of the reigning tablet kingpin, one thing is for certain: After the 2012 holiday season, screen-based devices are set to become the norm and even a necessity in American households, not just a luxury item. Content marketers have to be more prepped than ever to make sure that tablet-friendly content makes up a large portion of marketing strategy. Besides simply making sites mobile friendly, shareable content, videos and social network integration makes tablets massive marketing machines.
Whether or not the Surface will be the next big thing is still yet to be seen. After all, no one is waiting in line to snap up the latest version. Still, Microsoft could make some tweaks to the quality and most importantly, the price, to see a difference in upcoming sales as the rush for holiday gadgets goes underway. Hope your content strategy is ready.
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