It hasn’t been long since Microsoft unveiled its new line of tablets, the Surface. Since its release, the Surface Pro and other versions have been hogging their fair share of the market this side of the Atlantic. However, the same can’t be said of China, touted to be the largest growing market for smartphones and tablets. The Microsoft Surface RT tablet has been struggling to find a firm footing in the Chinese market and demand remains low even with Microsoft’s promotional and marketing efforts to boost sales.
Initially, Microsoft didn’t expect high sales of the Surface RT tablet in China hence they shipped only 30,000 units. However, for a major company to be so hesitant about selling a prime product in a growing market is something unprecedented. The way Microsoft had been working on building the hype regarding the device, it is surprising to find out that they weren’t enthused about its prospects in a market where iOS and Android devices have succeeded.
Nearly a million units of the Microsoft Surface RT tablet have been sold the world over. Yet, the number in China only stands at 30,000. This means only 3% of the total sales of the device have been in China where the population is well over one and a quarter billion. Moreover, the sales represent just 1% of the entire market for tablets sold in China since the tablet’s release. This means that Microsoft holds just 1% of the market share for tablets in China.
The reason why the uptake has been slow could be more to do with how Microsoft is rolling out the device in China rather than the demand itself. According to some market experts, Microsoft is seeking to present the Microsoft Surface RT tablet as an alternative to PCs. Hence, their focus is diverted from the low demand and poor sales. The company feels as though changing the device’s image and positioning would help it find a higher demand and a stronger market share.
The one positive aspect Microsoft could take solace in is that the Chinese market has been growing for the past couple of years. The country is on track to have more active smartphone and tablet users than the US in the near future. This means that Microsoft has the luxury of taking its time to improve its device’s prospects rather than going for all-out marketing and sales. Still, the company has to wrest market share from Apple which dominates the market in China as well.
The latest generation iPad has consolidated Apple’s position in China. Close to one and a half million units of the device were shipped in China, which means Apple enjoys more than 60% of the market share for tablets in the country. At the same time, Android’s market share has risen to 36% which means the two companies virtually control the market. Microsoft would have to find a way of penetrating and taking away some of the customers of the two brands or finding some on its own.
[Image via geek]