November Was “Best Month Ever” for Surface

Posted on December 12, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft Surface with 28 Comments

November Was "Best Month Ever" for Surface

Microsoft claimed today that November was the “best month ever” for consumer Surface sales. Leaving aside that “consumer” caveat for a moment, I suspect that this milestone had more to do with holiday sale prices than with Microsoft’s stated reason.

“We’re having our best holiday ever,” Microsoft’s Bill Hall claimed in a Surface momentum post. “November was our best month ever for consumer Surface sales. The Best Buy-exclusive Surface bundle sold out on the first day. The momentum was seen worldwide. In the UK, we had the best single week for Surface ever and in Germany the Surface Pen became the best seller in PC Accessories on Amazon.com for over 12 hours.”

That all points to what I suspect is the real culprit for this best-ever month at retail, which is what “for consumer” really means: Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book have seen sharp but temporary price declines in recent days, driving sales to individuals higher. This supports my contention, by the way, that these products were priced too highly to begin with.

A couple of examples of those recent sales:

So this seems clear-cut: Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book, which was released over a year ago and suffered through the most painful example of unreliable Microsoft hardware since the red-ringing Xbox 360, benefited greatly from lower prices.

Except that Microsoft muddied the waters with this.

“More people are switching from Macs to Surface than ever before,” Hall continued. “Our trade-in program for MacBooks was our best ever, and the combination of excitement for the innovation of Surface coupled with the disappointment of the new MacBook Pro – especially among professionals – is leading more and more people to make the switch to Surface, like this. It seems like a new review recommending Surface over MacBook comes out daily. This makes our team so proud, because it means we’re doing good work.”

It also means that Apple screwed up big time. That two year-old devices from Microsoft are suddenly better than brand-new devices from Apple says more, I think, about what Apple just did than what Microsoft did a year earlier.

Put another way, I don’t believe that many Apple users were jumping ship to Surface a year ago, though I base that on personal experience only, as I must: I never hear from users who did such a thing, and I routinely hear from readers and listeners from the Microsoft and Apple communities. Suffice to say that disappointment with the new MacBook Pro is both loud and unprecedented. I’ve never seen Apple truly freak out such loyal customers before.

And you know what? It doesn’t matter.

That Surface did experience its best-ever month with consumers is just great, no matter the reason. Hopefully, Microsoft will learn from this episode and, in plotting its next generation devices, will do learn the lessons from Apple’s mistakes: Price those devices correctly—i.e. a bit lower—and deliver what customers are really asking for.

Hey, we can dream.

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