Microsoft Now 5th Largest Tablet Seller, Propelled by Upbeat Ad

Surface pro business tablet

Microsoft has joined the ranks for the top 5 tablet sellers according to research firm IDC.  The Redmond, Washington based tech giant sold 900,000 units and had 1.8% market share for the first quarter of 2013.

Now it might sound as if 1.8% market share isn’t much to crow about.  Keep in mind, though, that a year earlier Microsoft had zero market share.

Even more telling is Apple’s drop.  A year ago it had 58% market share of shipments. This year in the first quarter of 2013 Apple shipments made up just 39% market share.

Most of Microsoft’s tablet sales came from the Surface Pro, which uses the Windows 8 operating system and targets business users.  “An interesting factoid from IDC is that the more expensive Surface Pro made up a large amount of the 900,000 total Surface units. The Surface Pro first went on sale in the U.S. and Canada in February, and Microsoft has plans to expand it even further across the world to 25 countries in May,” writes Jake Smith on gadget site PocketLint.

Surface Pro: A Business Tablet

Microsoft products appeal to business users. And the Surface Pro is a business tablet.

One of the advantages of a Surface Pro over other tablets is the ability to use Microsoft Office programs you might use at work, such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint.  You don’t need to learn a new operating system if you’re using Windows 8 on your desktop computer.

Equally attractive for business users is the hardware.  The Surface Pro straddles the line between laptop and tablet. There’s a built-in stand, and a snap-on keyboard that doubles as a cover. And it comes with a stylus so you can draw, select items or make handwritten notes.

And that’s exactly the kind of business tablet that business people need. Tablets that are mainly navigated through touch are great for browsing and playing games. They are ill suited for work such as creating and editing documents.

My Google Nexus 10 (made by Samsung) is light enough to hold with one hand and slip into my tote bag. It is terrific for watching videos and reading the news.  But trying to write a business document or create a post with it is frustratingly slow. Nor can I edit a PowerPoint presentation or an Excel spreadsheet.

An Effective Ad Campaign for Business Tablet Users

Microsoft has an effective television ad campaign going on now for the Surface Pro that I have to believe is helping raise awareness.

The ad features business people (actually professional dancers) doing a “dance” while sitting around a conference table.  The music is catchy and upbeat.  The ad conveys that meetings can be fun and exciting, not dull and boring — IF you have a business tablet like the Surface Pro.  The ad flashes quickly to the Surface Pro tablet being used for business purposes.  Those few quick flashes are enough. We business users already know what kind of applications Microsoft offers – we don’t need more.

Some commentators have criticized the ad – I could not disagree more.  Perhaps to a geek the commercial seems old fashioned.  But from the perspective of a business user, the ad is energetic, memorable and manages to say quite a bit about what the Surface Pro tablet can do for business users — all in 30 seconds.

The 30-second version showing on television now has better business focus than the longer online version embedded below, because it leaves out the distracting middle part with the beatbox.  The ad  “speaks”  to business people, just as the Surface Pro itself “speaks” to business people.


Image of Surface Pro: Microsoft


Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.

7 Reactions
  1. Microsoft is getting into the game. It will be wonderful to have a tablet with “office” products. The Surface Pro may be a game changer. Thanks for letting your subscribers know about it.

    • Anita Campbell

      Hi Kip,

      It’s a start for Microsoft in the tablet world. I couldn’t help but look into the Surface’s sales after being bombarded with those commercials for the past 2 weeks. And every time I see the ad, it makes me stop and pay attention. I was curious to see if I was the only one intrigued.

      Having a tablet and using it a while really opens your eyes as to their strengths and their shortcomings. I love my Google Nexus — just not for hardcore business purposes. The Google Nexus was my first tablet (although I’d played around with a family member’s iPad and I still use the very first iPod Touch, which is like a teeny weeny tablet). The Nexus is great for specific purposes. But when I travel it can’t really replace a laptop because I can’t get enough business productivity out of it.

      – Anita

    • One other new hybrid tablet device to launch this month worth considering is the Hummingbird PX103 by Aocos Electronics, which offers a “Transformer style” 10-inch device that includes a hard cover with a reverse side built-in keyboard that easily snaps into place, and is priced competitively at $249, with one of the first sites it’s available through is called TabletSprint

      The PX103 is the third edition of this device and previous versions have offered an excellent build quality, and this new rendition has impressive features for a mid-range tablet… spec wise includes the latest Rockchip Quad Core processor and HD 1280×800 IPS screen, Bluetooth 4.0 (works with built-in keyboard), HDMI – 4K, quality dual cameras, a 7000 mAh battery, Android 4.2.2 and Google Play preinstalled with access to the Google App store… it offers an ultra-thin 9.6mm profile and weighs in at only 1.4lbs…

      The PX103 is also one of the first tablets designed to work with the new, low-cost Miracast HD Wireless adapter-dongle ($35) which compares to Apple’s Airplay device — and prior to this, the few HDMI Wireless systems typically have been priced over $100. The Miracast adapter plugs into a TV’s HDMI port and allows users to stream HD movies and video from their tablet, display tablet content and use a tablet as a control device to play video games on to an HDTV.

      A 3G – HSPA+ version of the Hummingbird PX103 will also be released in June, with availability through TabletSprint.

  2. I’d love to own a Surface Pro, but I just can’t justify the price tag. I own a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and it handles all my current tablet needs, but I feel like the keyboard on a Surface would allow it to potentially replace my 14″ laptop that I currently do my work with. Hopefully the price comes down or I can get my hands on a refurb at a better price in the future.

    • Anita Campbell

      Hi Robert, It’s quite possible the price will come down – technology has a way of doing that.

      I seriously looked at the Surface RT when I was tablet shopping last year. If they’d had the Surface Pro out, I might have bought it. It’s a little clunkier than my Nexus, but in terms of functionality I think the Surface would do more for my business. And certainly easier to lug around on business trips than my 17 inch laptop. 🙂

      – Anita

    • Hi Robert. You don’t need a surface pro to get the benefits of a windows tablet. The original surface, or any of the other arm based windows tablets give you 90% of full desktop/ultrabook functionality, for many times less than $500. I have the asus VivoTab RT and love it. It was $500 with a keyboard dock which hen attached gives me almost 16 hours, if I keep the screen brightness down 🙂