Sales of Microsoft's Surface line of tablets may not have been very strong, but the company has shifted enough of the Surface RT and Surface Pro to bag itself a spot on the list of top five tablet vendors for Q1.
IDC says that based on preliminary data from its own Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, Surface shipments for the first quarter of 2013 topped nearly 900,000 units. IDC says 'many' of those units were the Surface Pro, which Microsoft only started shipping in February of this year. Figures for Q1 2013 put Microsoft at number five on the list of the world's top tablet vendors with 1.8 percent of the market. Slipping in ahead of Microsoft at number four is Amazon with 1.8 million units or 3.7 percent of the market. Apple, Samsung and Asus made up the top three, shipping 19.5 million, 8.8 million, and 2.7 million units respectively.
Recent rumors have suggested Microsoft may strengthen its push into the tablet market with smaller Surface devices. However, IDC's Ryan Reith is critical of the idea that such action would be a 'saving grace.'
"Recent rumors have circulated about the possibility of smaller screen Windows RT and Windows 8 tablets hitting the market," said Reith, Program Manager for IDC's Mobility Tracker program. "However, the notion that this will be the saving grace is flawed. Clearly the market is moving toward smart 7-8 inch devices, but Microsoft's larger challenges center around consumer messaging and lower cost competition. If these challenges are addressed, along with the desired screen size variations, then we could see Microsoft make even further headway in 2013 and beyond."
For now, Microsoft will have to make do with the Surface and Surface Pro, which the company is working on bringing to the rest of the world. The Surface Pro has been available in the United States, Canada and China since February. Earlier this month, Microsoft announced that the Surface Pro would be shipping to Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom before the end of May. Additional countries will get the Surface Pro the following month, in June, while the Surface RT heads for Mexico, Korea and Thailand.