You may have heard or read over the past few hours that Walmart has temporarily sold out of the price-slashed Surface RT units. This is good news. Obviously, Microsoft is sitting on a whole heap of Surface RT stock and getting them into the hands of actual users is important. But, more importantly, there’s a lesson to learn here. The lesson is not a new one, though.
Remember the HP Touchpad? The Touchpad was not a bad device, it was just overpriced. When HP initiated the now famous Touchpad fire sale over one weekend, the devices were snatched up quickly. I was one of those snatcher-uppers. I still own the device and despite it no longer being supported and new app development is dormant, it still gets used periodically.
What should have been learned from the Touchpad fiasco was the proper price point for tablets to sell. Microsoft produced two different Surface tablets, the RT and Pro. It’s obvious that the Pro is meant more for business and can, therefore, garner a higher price tag – particularly when it supports legacy Windows apps and can run full versions of Microsoft Office. But, the RT was intended as a consumer device. Consumers are generally not going to pay anywhere above $300 for a tablet, well, except for the iPad. The iPad is a different case. It was first to market and the Apple has/had a magical, almost mystical, allure on consumers who don’t mind going into debt for a first-run device.
So, the Surface RT has sold out at Walmart. Why? Microsoft dropped the price to a comfortable range. I still maintain that the Surface RT is a better tablet than the Surface Pro, for a number of reasons. You can read about those here: Surface Pro vs. Surface RT: An honest comparison. And, I swear that the Surface is the best tablet available, at least until I get my hands on the new Nexus 7 to test out.
I’m sure the pricing structure for the Surface RT was already paper thin, indicating that Microsoft spent a lot to develop and manufacture the devices. But, why price yourself out of the market? The Surface RT operating system is solid, but the poor sales of the tablet is resides on has industry folks, and even Microsoft partners, doubting that RT is even a viable option now.
I hope the lesson has been learned this time. I doubt it.