Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Microsoft's Surface tablet has a bleak Black Friday

Microsoft's Surface tablets and the newest iPad (fourth generation) both were recently launched. One of them had a good Black Friday; one of them had a bad one. Take a guess as to which is which.

As he does every Black Friday for the past five years, Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster, or rather, his crew, spent eight hours counting customers at the Mall of America's Apple Store. This year, there was also some counting going on at the Microsoft Store directly across the aisle.

Three key findings from their monitoring activity:
  • There was 47 percent less foot traffic at the Microsoft Store outlet than the Apple Store.
  • The average number of items sold per hour at the Apple Store was 17.2. At the Microsoft Store, it was only 3.5. Worse, all but two of the Microsoft purchases were Xbox games.
  • Here's the biggest disappointment for Microsoft. Apple sold an average of 11 iPads per hour. Not a single Microsoft Surface tablet was sold during the two hours Piper Jaffray spent monitoring the store.
Granted, Munster's team spent 1/4 of the time at the Microsoft Store that they did at the Apple Store. Still, we don't think Microsoft would suddenly have averaged 15.5 Surface tablets over its last six hours.

Also, this is one Apple Store in one mall and one Microsoft Store in the same mall. It's possible that things would be different in another location.

Apple and Microsoft both offered Black Friday deals on the devices in question. Apple discounts the fourth-gen iPad and iPad 2 from $40 - $60 depending on storage capacity. Microsoft offered a Surface bundle deal, but it was rather uninviting (customers who purchased a 32GB or 64GB Surface tablet with the Black Touch Cover would receive $50 off a second Surface Touch Cover (usually $119.99) or Type Cover (normally $129.99).

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