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Analysts Believe That Surface RT Only Sold 1 Million Units. Will the Pro Do Any Better?


Estimates for the RT are largely unfavorable, though the Pro could redeem the brand.


Nearly three months after its release, official sales numbers for Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Surface RT tablet are still impossible to find. Despite expressing its happiness with the tablet's performance, Microsoft has yet to publicly proclaim the RT a success, keeping its sales records a closely guarded secret. That hasn't stopped analysts from offering hypotheses on how the Surface is selling, though, and as the release of the Pro looms, many have become curious on how its predecessor managed.

Last month, analysts from Detwiler Fenton projected that Microsoft would fail in selling over 1 million units before the quarter ended, putting the number between 500,000 to 600,000. The Boston-based firm blamed this on a marketing strategy that was "in disarray" and a price tag that was too high. However UBS analyst Brent Thill has recently offered a more generous appraisal, stating that the Surface RT most likely has sold 1 million units since release, though this number is far from ideal for Microsoft. Adding perspective, Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad sold 11.12 million units in Q4.

Thill attributes his estimate to a "gloomy sentiment" that pervaded the holiday shopping season, and consumer preference for other tablet brands such as the iPad, Amazon's Kindle (NASDAQ:AMZN), and even Google's Nexus (NASDAQ:GOOG).

However, it is possible that savvy consumers are just holding out for the upcoming Surface Pro. As we have stated in previous articles, the Pro is Microsoft's true champion tablet, capable of running the full version of Windows 8 and its many apps. While the RT has been hampered by reduced functionality and mixed reviews upon release, the Pro is being touted as an effective replacement for laptops, and has continued to receive positive outlooks since is preview at CES last week.

Full reviews on the product are still pending, but the tech world seems impressed with the Pro's design. So unless there are any serious software bugs or performance hiccups, the tablet should receive glowing reviews. Even Thill is optimistic about the Pro's performance, stating that it "looks like the more promising model." Still, it's possible that the tablet's high price point of $899 will prevent it from becoming a hit, though many believe its capabilities justify the cost.

The Surface Pro's release date is another mystery that Microsoft has under wraps, even though the company promised to have it on shelves before the end of this month. Although all this secrecy is concerning, hopefully if the Pro's reception is warmer than the RT's, the company will feel more comfortable about releasing information.

For further Microsoft news, be sure to check out:

5 Ways Microsoft Can Get Back on Track in 2013: Release the Xbox 720 Early

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