But there’s a bigger consideration when determining whether the Surface Pro is a success: sales comparisons on an apples-to-apples basis. The Surface Pro isn’t a tablet, but it’s been lumped into the same category as less powerful, and much less expensive, alternatives. There’s no one to blame but Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) for marketing the Pro to the tablet market in the first place, bringing it directly into the crosshairs of Apple, Google, and Samsung, but side-by-side evaluations simply aren’t warranted.
But comparing the base $900 Pro, with its PC-like features and 128GB of storage crammed into a tidy little tablet-sized package, with a $329 iPad Mini or even cheaper Google Nexus 7, doesn’t do Microsoft, or the Surface Pro, justice. If there’s a sales results comparison to be made, it should be between the Pro and Google’s new $1,300 to $1,450 Chromebook Pixel. But mentioning the Surface Pro in the same breath as a tablet? That’s akin to lumping a Yugo in with a BMW because they’re both cars.
The notion that the Pro is more laptop than tablet is a recurring theme that runs through many of the Surface Pro user reviews. The capability of running legacy Windows applications on Pro, and the Pro’s lightning-fast performance, changes things, big time. Now, users get all the computing power of a PC with the mobility, size, and weight of a tablet.
That leaves Microsoft with a decision to make: Do Ballmer and his team decide to market the Pro as a new, niche product, justifying its higher price by emphasizing its advanced features compared with mere tablets? Or does Microsoft find ways to shave the cost of the Pro to a more manageable, tablet-like price?
Consumers will remain hesitant to spend $900 to $1,100 (depending on the Surface Pro’s features) for what they perceive as a tablet, when other options are listed for half of what Microsoft is asking. With an estimated manufacturing cost of a mere $284, Microsoft can adjust the Surface Pro’s pricing if it decides to go this route. Of course, the $284 is the cost to manufacture the Pro only, and doesn’t include transportation costs, marketing expenses, and the like. But it certainly leaves Microsoft with some maneuvering room.
Regardless of the direction Microsoft elects to take in marketing the Surface Pro, and to a lesser extent the RT, early sales results aren’t nearly as dire as some would have you believe. When all the factors are considered, Microsoft’s entry into the tablet market is doing just fine. Ballmer needs to make some tough decisions if he wants to build on Microsoft’s Surface sales going forward. But so far, so good.
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The article A Different Perspective on Microsoft’s Surface Sales originally appeared on Fool.com.
Fool contributor Tim Brugger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and Google and owns shares of Apple, Google, and Microsoft.
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