Brad Feld recently referred to me as an “unapologetic Microsoft fanboy” – he wasn’t wrong. Back in October I purchased the Microsoft Surface RT tablet and happily gave up my iPad, my last piece of Apple tech. While the Surface RT isn’t perfect for me it’s been a far better device than the iPad.
On Saturday Microsoft released the follow-up, the Surface Pro (full review coming soon). No matter your brand loyalties this is a very important device. It’s Microsoft’s first computer, designed by them, built by them, sold by them. It’s one of the first Windows 8 Pro tablet form factor devices. It’s a fantastic, Apple-level piece of hardware. And it runs full Windows 8 Pro – meaning it runs any and every Windows app you’ve ever owned. Then when you want you can take it to the couch and touch/swipe away just like an iPad. It also is the first main-stream device to begin to tap the power of Windows 8, the merging of the tablet/touch world with the desktop/mouse world. They couldn’t have fucked up the launch more.
As I’ve been looking forward to the Pro for several months I was ready to pre-order, just like I did with my RT. Nope, no pre-orders. Ok, looks like I’ll be standing in line like I did way back for the iPhone 1. The only launch partners, save for Microsoft Stores, were BestBuy and Staples. So I begin calling to see what stock levels will be like and where I should go wait. This is where the fail begins.
On Friday night and Saturday morning I called 4 different BestBuy stores and 3 different Staples. Of the 7 stores five of them got 1. One. Uno. And only the 64GB one. 2 of the stores got 2, again only the 64GB one. Shocked by this I was left with one choice – drive 50 miles one-way to the Microsoft Store in Denver. I got there about 9:30 for a 10 a.m. opening and was shocked at the line. I was number #36 in line – of 40 available 128gb units. We chatted with the employees prior to opening and found out the other MS Store in Denver (even further south) got the same allocation – 40.
So let’s do the math here. There are 10 BestBuy stores in the Denver metro area and 9 Staples. Let’s assume 1.5 units per store (being generous) and that’s roughly 30 units. Now let’s add in the 80 128GB units at the Microsoft Stores and it looks like there are roughly 120 units total in Denver (and 1/3 no one wants). A quick Google search shows Denver metro’s population at 2.6 million. Let’s be extreme and triple these numbers, 300 total units for a population of 2.6 million. From media reports this has apparently been the case country wide.
This is beyond ridiculous. It’s utterly embarrassing. Whether this was due to the marketing or fulfillment teams is irrelevant. I’ve read in the press some think this was intentional as Microsoft wanted to ensure that it would sell out. The way to make a product sell out is to first build an amazing product (in my opinion they’ve done that), second market the shit out of it (which they have clearly failed) and finally have the product available to those excited to buy it. When someone shows up 10 minutes before launch to see a short line and then be told “sorry, we’re already out” is unbelievable. I saw them turn away at least 10 people. Had the line been 200 people fine. Oh and to add insult to injury you can’t even order one now – they are simply “Out of stock” on all sites.
Are you kidding Microsoft? Why do you constantly let yourself down so badly with these little things. This is the primary reason Apple is killing you in the hearts and minds of consumers. You built an amazing product that people want. When a store gets one in stock people can’t buy it, only a person can. Brad I’m officially apologizing for Microsoft – and I don’t like it.