There may have been no five hour lines for the release of Microsoft's Surface tablet but the device has been pretty popular. Even with some claiming the company staged lines and compensated people to stand and wait, the Surface was still able to sell out of its pre-order supply in a pretty quick timeframe. Now, with a week gone by for Windows 8 tablet sales, the $499 Surface unit is still sold out, at least at the online Microsoft Store.
Leading into this weekend, the basic Surface model, without the Touch Cover is marked "out of stock" online, with the white Surface Touch Cover also being out of stock. However, the 32GB and 64GB units with the black Touch Cover are still available for purchase. Just a few days ago, all of these models were marked as "backordered" but now it appears the higher-end versions are back and ready for purchase. Several brick-and-mortar Microsoft stores did say that they have stock of all three models as of Friday afternoon, but a handful also told me that they were either out of or were "running low" on the $499 edition of the Surface.
Why the shortage? Well, there's probably a couple of factors here. First, Microsoft handed out thousands of these at their Build conference this week to developers in attendance, although nobody has officially said that this could have affected inventory levels. Next, the $499 version comes without a Touch Cover, allowing you to purchase a colored cover of your choosing, or even shell out a bit more for the Type Cover. This could definitely lead to that particular model being more popular than its sisters. Also, the device is only being sold at Microsoft's own retail and online stores. This can surely affect the supply of products, as there could be less floating around in distribution centers at Amazon, Newegg, Staples, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, etc. Lastly, some might consider the Apple theory of supply-and-demand in this case. Did Microsoft go about its usual method (at least with its hardware partners up until now) of making sure everyone who wants a Windows product will get one? Alternatively, did the company, with this being its first hardware release - sans Xbox - take up the Apple mentality and only release a little bit at a time, creating shortages, and thereby potentially increasing the demand and hype around their flagship product? While the latter may seem plausible, we do know that everyone who pre-ordered their Surface received one, as well as everyone who waited in lines on launch day. This is true for at least the Florida Mall store in Orlando and the pop-up center in NYC, as these were the two I was able to definitively get that answer from.
So maybe the Surface really is that popular, despite all of the negative or apprehensive reviews from several seemingly Apple-funded publications. We'll keep you up to date on what happens and when the 32GB version comes back in stock. If you want one right now though, you're going to either have to trek to a store or pick up a 64GB model. With a 64GB Surface, you can load up a bunch more of your favorite movies, MP3s (or FLACs, if that's more your taste) and of course, our show! Bigger is better, after all.