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Tablet sales slow in absence of new iPad model: IDC
by Staff Writers
San Francisco, California (AFP) Aug 05, 2013

Microsoft cuts price of high end Surface tablets
New York City, New York (AFP) Aug 05, 2013 - Microsoft on Monday knocked $100 off the price of high-end versions of its Surface tablet, which is competing against Apple's iPad and devices that use Google's Android system.

The software giant's online store is offering US consumers the Surface Pro for $799 or $899, depending on memory capacity, down from $899 and $999 respectively.

"We've been seeing great worldwide success with Surface RT pricing and keyboard-cover promotions over the past several months and are proud to offer Surface Pro at more affordable prices," Microsoft said in an email response to an AFP inquiry.

"People who buy Surface love Surface, and we're eager for more people to get their hands on Surface and share their excitement."

The Surface RT is a basic version of the tablet, which got a 30 percent price cut last month after failing to gain traction in the market.

The Surface RT price dropped to $349 from $499.

Surface Pro tablet prices are being discounted in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Canada and the United States through August 29, according to Microsoft.

The promotion comes on the heels of shabby tablet sales that resulted in Microsoft taking a $900 million charge against fourth quarter earnings, which closed at the end of June.

The charge exceeds sales of the tablet since it was launched at the end of October 2012, estimated by the company at $853 million.

Surface was introduced as a platform for Microsoft's new Windows 8 operating system, which was launched at the same time in a bid to make up for ground lost to Apple and Google in the mobile domain.

Sizzling hot tablet sales have cooled a bit but should re-ignite with the release of a new iPad model later this year, market tracker IDC reported on Monday.

The International Data Corporation report came as research firm Forrester forecast that tablet sales would rise rapidly worldwide in the years ahead.

Global tablet shipments in the second quarter of this year declined 9.7 percent from the prior three-month period, according to IDC.

However, tablet shipments climbed nearly 60 percent to 45.1 million units when compared with the same quarter a year earlier, IDC reported.

A quarter-over-quarter slowdown in sales was expected given that Apple did not unleash a new version of its coveted iPad early in the year as it had in the past, according to IDC analysts.

"A new iPad launch always piques consumer interest in the tablet category and traditionally that has helped both Apple and its competitors," said IDC tablets research director Tom Mainelli.

"By the fourth quarter we expect new products from Apple, Amazon, and others to drive impressive growth in the market."

Worldwide tablet sales will reach 381 million units in the year 2017, with business accounting for 18 percent of the purchases, according to a Forrester forecast authored by JP Gownder and Michael O'Grady.

"We believe tablet sales and penetration will continue to grow rapidly," Gownder said Monday in a blog post.

"In developed markets, they will streak past 'mass market' status to become what we term 'mainstay' devices - a third form factor carried by most online consumers."

Apple shipped 14.6 million iPads during the second quarter of this year in a 14.1 percent drop from the same quarter last year, according to IDC.

Meanwhile, sales of tablets grew for Apple rivals Samsung, Asus, Lenovo, and Acer, market figures showed.

"The tablet market is still evolving and vendors can rise and fall quickly as a result," said IDC mobility tracker program manager Ryan Reith.

"Apple aside, the remaining vendors are still very much figuring out which platform strategy will be successful over the long run."

While Apple remained the top tablet maker, Google-back Android mobile software used by a variety of the California company's competitors accounted for 62.6 percent of the market in the second quarter, according to IDC.

"To date, Android has been far more successful than the Windows 8 platform," Reith said, in a reference to Microsoft operating software.

"However, Microsoft-fueled products are starting to make notable progress into the market."

About two million Windows-powered tablets were shipped in the second quarter in an increase of more than five times from the same three-month period last year, according to IDC.

Microsoft on Monday knocked $100 off the price of high-end versions of its Surface tablet, which is competing against Apple's iPad and devices that use Google's Android system.


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