No-one except Microsoft really knows how well the Surface is selling, but speculation is rife. Detwiler Fenton, a Boston-based brokerage firm, said in a research note today that Microsoft is likely to sell just 500,000 to 600,000 Surface RTs in the December quarter. The analyst, a bit like Steve Ballmer, blamed it on poor distribution of the tablet. “Lack of distribution is killing the product,” Detwiler Fenton explained. “Mixed reviews and a [$499] starting price tag certainly don’t help, but lack of retail exposure at Best Buy and others is severely depressing sales.” Potential buyers are not able to get a hands-on with the device themselves, which can be a deal breaker with a new product like the Microsoft Surface. Currently, there are just 31 Microsoft stores and 34 smaller holiday kiosks in the U.S. Given that paucity of stores, the average consumer’s is pretty likely to see the device ...

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  Ultrabook notebooks never really set the market on fire, but according to ABI Research all the slim laptops really needed was a good dose of Windows 8. “One of the biggest factors hindering ultrabook sales has been the awaited launch of Windows 8,” said ABI senior analyst Josh Flood. “However, with the launch of Windows 8, we may see a double whammy effect. A number of consumers have held off from computer purchases so they could purchase an ultrabook with Windows 8 during the year. Furthermore, with the abundance of new ultrabook model releases, older systems’ prices will reduce and this will entice purchases from the low to mid-range price segment.” ABI Research expects 21 million ultrabooks to be sold this year, with half to the North American continent,followed by the Western European and Asia-Pacific markets. The number is close to double Apple’s projected total Macbook shipments in 2012, ...

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Apple booster Gene Munster from Piper Jaffray has performed a side by side comparison of Microsoft and Apple stores on Black Friday and posted some observations. After 8 hours of observation he found Apple stores were seeing about 715 customers per hour, while Microsoft stores saw 47% less, at around 379 per hour for the two hours they observed them. While this is still pretty respectable traffic, the problem appears to be that buyers at the Microsoft store were mainly buying Xbox games, while the Apple store sold about 11  iPads per hour, vs no Surfaces at all during the two hours they observed the store. Of course not everything was going Apple’s way. While footfall has increased, buying has decreased – last year they sold 2.7 iPads per 100 visitors, this year 1.5 per each 100 visitors, a drop of around 43%, with less iPads being sold than last ...

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While Steven Sinofsky may not have many fans in Microsoft, it seems Wall Street loved him. In the wake of his departure Microsoft’s market cap took a $10 billion hit in early trading, recovering only somewhat during the course of the day. Analyst Rick Sherlund, Nomura explained why: “We hold Sinofsky in high regard as a technical visionary and his ability to deliver complex products on a timely basis,” he writes. “Sinofsky had previously driven successful Office releases, and the turn-around of Windows 7 after Vista, and we are of the view that the move is a loss to Microsoft. . We believe this also signals that Mr. Ballmer has no plans to turn over the reins as Microsoft’s CEO for the next several years, despite press speculation to the contrary. We think the move will weigh on the stock near-term. We don’t think the move is a reflection on ...

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Pacific Crest Securities analyst Brendan Barnicle on Sunday raised his estimates for Microsoft because of in-line sales for the Surface. Barnicle surveyed retailers in the U.S., Canada and Germany, about 75% of whom say Windows 8 is meeting expectations, while 25% said the computers are selling faster than expected. ...

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Lines of buyers waiting for the Microsoft Surface. Unfortunately not backed by figures, NPD vice president of industry analysis Stephen Baker told eWeek the Microsoft Surface is enjoying “healthy sales.” The sentiment was based on strong foot traffic at the 65 Microsoft Stores selling the tablet as well as lines at launch day. Baker also said a Microsoft Store he recently visited was busy with most everyone there looking at a Surface. Selling Surface only in Microsoft stores, “allows them to really talk about the value proposition of Surface in a very controlled way and drive a lot of traffic to their stores, he said. This allowed the Surface to shine without competing for attention with other tablets. Other analysts agree. “We called or visited all permanent Microsoft Stores this week, and the feedback was that Surface sales have been steady, foot traffic has been above average, and restocking shipments ...

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Microsoft has not announced any Surface sales figures, leaving analysts to do what they do best. “We called or visited all permanent Microsoft Stores this week, and the feedback was that Surface sales have been steady, foot traffic has been above average, and restocking shipments have been consistent,” wrote Phil Winslow of Credit Suisse in a note to clients. The Windows RT Surface tablet was launched on the 26th October and the cheaper model quickly sold out soon after. He added that returns “have been relatively few,” with most of those citing the lack of backwards compatibility with older Windows applications that will only be available when the company launches the “Pro” version of the tablet sometime early next year. Analyst Brendan Barnicle of Pacific Crest surveyed a number of Microsoft’s stores, and reported “strong” sales of the tablet and that most stores had gone through at least one round ...

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  Wired posted the above picture, showing the wide range of Windows 8 hybrid tablets/laptops which will be hitting the market shortly. While there is a lot of trepidation about the reception Windows 8 will have in in the market, it does enable a wide variety of new form factors which may boost the moribund laptop market. “I do believe the convertibles have the ability to draw consumer attention,” IHS iSuppli analyst Craig Stice says. “The question of course will boil down to price with these new convertibles and how competitive they will be able to be versus the tablet.” Companies likeHP, Dell, Lenovo, Sony, Acer, Samsung, Toshiba, and Asus have all started pushing into this new category of convertible devices, with devices ranging in price for $700 to $1600, with the majority priced similar to an ultrabook. “Hybrid devices will not drive the overall growth [of the PC market] ...

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Morgan Stanley’s Adam Holt released a research note on the Microsoft Surface where he suggested Microsoft will be selling 3 million of the tablets, which are priced to be competitive with the Apple iPad, in the last 3 months of the year. He also expects Microsoft to sell 9 million devices in 2013, saying the device is “an underappreciated driver for Windows revenue in FY13 and beyond.” “Pricing appears competitive: $499 for a 32 GB Surface is less than the $599 for a new 32 GB iPad with WiFi, while $699 for a 64 GB Surface plus keyboard is consistent with the $699 cost of a 64 GB iPad, with no keyboard-and MSFT’s flat keyboard is itself a differentiator. The $599 Surface bundle (32 GB tablet + keyboard) costs the same as a 32 GB iPad, but > 50% of iPad users also purchase an iPad cover (~$50 at retail) ...

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