Epic Fail: Microsoft's Surface Pro product launch and availability should have been better (editorial)

Surface pro

While some lucky consumers were able to obtain a Surface Pro (128GB or 64GB), most consumers were not able to get their eager hands on Microsoft's new device. Consumers may be losing interest in the Surface Pro after over a week and a half of the devices "availability" which is resulting in an epic fail in terms of product launch.

To recap, Microsoft launched the long-awaited Surface Pro on February 9th. The Surface Pro features Windows 8 Pro, among other features, which makes it a sought-after computer for those wanting a tablet/laptop hybrid. Within hours, the Surface Pro was out of stock at the three places it could be purchased from: MicrosoftStore.com, Staples, and BestBuy (in the United States at least). Microsoft promised to ship more units to these outlets as soon as possible. After a week, some of these outlets had the device in stock, only to sell out again. This idea of a product launch resulted in many frustrated consumers complaining and taking their business elsewhere.

For example, here are two recent comments left on Microsoft's official Surface Blog, regarding the unavailability issues:

Well, Microsoft Store and Surface gets a big fail for me. I called the Microsoft Store this morning and was told they had 128GB Surface Pro units in stock. They WOULD NOT tell me how many and they would not hold or reservere it for me. So, I drive 30 miles to the store, walk in and asked to get one. I was told they had them, BUT, I had to be on the waiting list! What?! WHY didn't someone tell me this BEFORE I drove the 30 freakin' miles to the store.

Ran into issues last weekend when I went to two different Best Buy stores and a Staples. Both of the BB's had NO STOCK at all, on launch day, and had no idea if or when they would get any. Ditto at Staples. So, I'm done wasting my time and I'll keep my $1500 or spend it on something else. And no, I will not place an order online, not after the terrible customer experiences I have had so far with this poor launch.

This has been the worst device launch ever. I went to the MS kiosk/store last week on launch day, sold out of 128gb, but I was told by the staff they only received about 10 devices - nice launch day volume. No offer to be put on the waiting list. So I see stores will be restocking today and went to the kiosk this AM, nope. All allocated to our waiting list which they cannot put me on now as its too long and I would be better ordering on line or trying best buy. How many ways can you screw up a launch. Some advice - don't announce a launch date and not have stock, and then don't tell eager fans you will have more stock in a week when in reality you don't have enough to even meet day 1 orders still. As much as I wanted the surface I don't want to wait a month to get a device - I actually need something for work. So now I gotta go get something else.

Now a little disclaimer here. This post isn't intended to bash Microsoft but simply to point out how the product launch wasn't as great as it should have been, and how this launch may have lost potential sales due to availability issues. Some consumers were lucky enough to snag a Surface Pro and are happy right now, while most are frustrated, surfing the internet waiting to read about the Surface Pro 128GB to be in stock again, only to find out its not available yet.

Bestbuy surface pro

So what exactly was Microsoft thinking when it announced that only BestBuy, Staples, and MicrosoftStore.com would carry the Surface? Is this sort of an experiment on their part to see if the product will indeed kick-off or will it fail? If it failed, perhaps having it in limited locations would be an easier way to brush it under the rug. Now that we have seen such a popular demand for the Surface Pro, perhaps Microsoft should expand retail availability to other outlets such as Amazon and Newegg.

How about the issue of BestBuy and Staples only carrying a few devices during launch? In fact, some consumers were venting on various blogs about how the BestBuy or Staples stores admitted to only having less than 10 Surface Pro 128GB devices! Some stores only having 1!! Why? Is it because these retail outlets did not want to stock so many of these devices only to see the product fail and get stuck with all these extra devices sitting in stock? Microsoft needs to get more of these devices out to retail channels immediately and fix this availability issue. Microsoft has already admitted that they were working on restocking these devices in BestBuy, Staples, and MicrosoftStore.com, but how soon before we go out of stock again? MicrosoftStore.com is now taking "reservations" for the Surface Pro 128GB and shipment will begin March 1st. Thats nearly a month after the product's launch! Not good.

In my opinion, the Surface Pro product launch and availability was an epic fail. Microsoft spent so much time, effort, and money in marketing and hyping the Surface Pro. Microsoft should learn from this experience and understand that they may have lost potential customers due to this "out of stock crisis" and perhaps improve on this when it comes time to launch the Surface 2.

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