IHS iSuppli: Microsoft Surface RT Sales Low, Returns High

Pulkit Chandna

Microsoft Surface RT sales “significantly lower” than shipments

Microsoft has been mum on Surface RT sales ever since the Windows RT device first hit the market on October 26, 2012, even maintaining its deathly silence on the subject during its recent fiscal second quarter earnings call. There can be only one explanation for this: Surface RT sales have been low. So low, in fact, that the company is embarrassed even to talk about it.

The obvious question, then, is exactly how low? If you ask IHS iSuppli, as our friends at CNET recently did, the correct answer lies somewhere between 680,000 and 750,000 units . According to Rhoda Alexander, an analyst at the market research firm, of the approximately 1.25 million units that made it into the channel during the fourth quarter only 55 to 60 percent actually got sold. All those unsold units have apparently forced Microsoft to cut production.

And if the mediocre “sales-out” (sell-through) percentage isn’t troubling enough, the Surface RT also suffers from a very high return rate, per Alexander.

"If you put the high return  rate together with low sell-through rate, that's indicative of a problem," she told CNET. "It seems to be linked in a lot of cases to a steep learning curve of the OS -- which is not necessarily intuitive.”

Perhaps everyone’s waiting for the Surface Pro and its full PC experience. What do you think?

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