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Over the weekend, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told French newspaper Le Perisian that sales of the company's Surface tablet "are starting modestly." Ballmer blamed the slow sales on limited distribution channels.
Reuters reported, "Microsoft Corp's new Surface tablet - its challenger to Apple's iPad - had a 'modest' start to sales because of limited availability, Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer told French daily Le Parisien.... 'We've had a modest start because Surface is only available on our online retail sites and a few Microsoft stores in the United States,' Ballmer was quoted as saying."
At InfoWorld, Woody Leonhard wrote that the sluggish sales are bad news for Microsoft: "I don't expect to see sales for the Surface RT to pick up, even over the holidays. With widespread reports of Touch Cover keyboards that split open like Gallagher's watermelons, Metro apps that continue to underwhelm the competition, complaints of rampant advertising in the apps (gimme a break -- the Metro Music and Video apps are nothing but wall-to-wall advertisements), and reported audio stuttering and spontaneous muting problems, not to mention demonstrably lethargic performance and rumors of astronomical return rates, the Surface RT version 1.0 may well be circling the drain."
The Atlantic Wire's Rebecca Greenfield was much less harsh, noting, "But not all signs point to flop. Ballmer claims this slow start has more to do with supply than demand (a refrain we're familiar with from the Apple camp)." She added, "In any case, Ballmer expects sales will pick up once Microsoft releases the higher-end version of the Surface, the Surface Pro, which can run the full version of Windows and might appeal to people who want to use the tablet as a lightweight computer."
Computerworld's Preston Gralla commented, "Given the Surface tablet's starting price of $499, I don't expect it to be a big seller -- and neither does IDC, which warns that: 'Price points are critical in tablets, and Microsoft and its partners will have a tough time winning a share of consumer wallet with price points starting at $500.' So modest sales of the Surface to date are no surprise...and I'd expect only modest sales for quite some time."