Last month saw an unprecedented volume of major consumer product launches, with Microsoft, Google, and Apple all forging ahead in the tablet market. With mobile computing on the incline and PC sales estimated to have dropped eight per cent this year, it’s no wonder that electronics giants are choosing to duke it out for tablet dominance.
But, weeks after the release of their flagship devices, what kind of impact are the big three making?
As is the norm, Apple has been forthcoming - boastful, even - with its sales figures. At the iPad mini launch in October, CEO Tim Cook revealed that the company had sold its 100 millionth iPad since the tablet’s release in 2010. Apple has since well cleared that milestone, reporting sales of three million fourth-generation iPads and iPad minis during their joint launch weekend. Though it’s not clear how many units of each were sold, the figure was a sales record for Apple, with demand for some models of the iPad mini outstripping initial supply.
“We set a new launch weekend record and practically sold out of iPad minis. We're working hard to build more quickly to meet the incredible demand,” said Cook.
Furthermore, Apple is on track to sell more than 100 million tablets next year, according to some analyst predictions.
Google and Microsoft, meanwhile, are far less open about their numbers.
Last week, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told French newspaper Le Parisien that sales of its new Surface with Windows RT hybrid tablet had “started modestly”. Ballmer offered few details but pointed to the device’s limited retail channels for its slow sales start.
Upon Surface becoming available for pre-order in late-October, stocks of the entry-level £399 model sold out within 24 hours. Though that bodes well for its prospects, there is no word on how large the initial supply was.
When contacted by ITProPortal, Microsoft declined to comment on specific sales figures, saying only that Surface will be sold exclusively at Microsoft retail stores, holiday pop-up shops, and via Microsoft’s online store. In China and Hong Kong, it will be available for purchase at electronics retailer Suning, which, given the size of the Chinese market, could well provide a sales boost.
Google, whose updated Nexus 7 and brand-new Nexus 10 tablets and Nexus 4 smartphone were released just last week, was similarly tight-lipped about its figures. The Google Play store’s supply of Nexus 10s and Nexus 4s was quickly depleted, but the company told ITProPortal it had nothing to share about specific sales figures so far.
The Nexus 7, which was first released in July, is expected to have sold more than five million units by the end of this year, with one million now being shipped every month, according to some reports. It’s likely that the updated Nexus line-up, urged on by its competitive pricing, will follow suit.
But while Microsoft's and Google's refusal to disclose the specifics of their sales figures doesn’t necessarily betray disappointing custom, we can’t help our curiosity.