Microsoft shipped only 300,000 Surfaces last quarter, says IDC

Steve Ballmer at the New York launch event for Windows 8 in October 2012. Credit:Reuters

Last week, IDC released its tablet shipment statistics for the second quarter of 2013. I noticed that Microsoft and Amazon had fallen out of the top five tablet makers since Q1 -- they were replaced by Lenovo and Acer -- so I emailed IDC researcher Tom Mainelli to see where these vendors stacked up.

It turns out that Amazon shipped 1 million Kindle Fires during Q2 -- a significant drop from 1.8 million in Q1, but a respectable number. One million in Q1 still would have landed Amazon in the top five.

But Microsoft shipped only 300,000 Surface tablets during the quarter. That's one-third the number it shipped in the first quarter.

I confirmed with IDC that this 300,000 number includes both the Surface Pro, which runs Windows 8, and the Surface RT, which we already knew was in trouble given the fact that Microsoft recently wrote down $900 million.

In the same report, IDC also showed tablet sales by operating system. According to that part of the report, Windows RT shipped on about 200,000 tablets sold during the quarter. If you assume that at least half of those were Surface RTs (since few other OEMs are selling RT devices), that means Microsoft sold less than 200,000 Surface Pros during the second quarter.

It was just introduced in the first quarter. No wonder Microsoft just cut the price of the Surface Pro by $100.

Is anybody else hearing echoes of the Zune here? Or the Kin? 

At the same time, Windows 8 tablets are picking up a little bit of steam -- overall, 1.8 million were sold during the quarter. That makes it the third-most popular tablet platform behind iOS (14.6 million) and Android (28.2 million). So at least Microsoft has a prayer of picking up some momentum in the fast-growing tablet market.

But separate research from IDC shows that consumers aren't buying very many touchscreen laptops, either. 

Once again, this all seems to show that consumers don't want the kind of hybrid that Microsoft is trying to sell with Surface. They want tablets to be tablets, and PCs to be PCs. At least for now.

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