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Rough Sales Estimates Put Surface Tablets In Perspective

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Users and fans of Microsoft’s Surface family devices might have spent yesterday celebrating Microsoft’s announcement that revenue for the line of tablets doubled at the tail end of 2013, however sales estimates from two Microsoft watchers indicate there’s only a few things for to celebrate.

Estimates compiled by Microsoft watchers Paul Thurrott and Steve Kovach on Twitter and found by GeekWire indicate that Microsoft sold roughly 1.5 million Surface and Surface Pro devices.

While that’s certainly an improvement over the write down the company took on Surface tablets at the same time a year earlier, that’s nowhere near where sales of Apple’s iPad tablets currently sit. For reference, Apple sold 14 million iPads in the third quarter of 2013. That’s just before an expected sales spike in the fourth quarter due to the winter holidays.

Surface 2

The Surface Pro 2 with Type 2 Cover and Surface Pen

Thurrott and Kovach came to their numbers by assigning the Surface family of devices a rough average selling price of around $600. Then then used that number to divide the $893 million Microsoft says it earned in Surface related revenue during the last quarter of 2013. Of course, these numbers aren’t exact. Microsoft hasn’t released specific sales numbers for any of its Surface tablets. As such, Thurrott and Kovach’s estimated average selling price could be off, resulting in a higher or lower sales estimate.

To be clear, Microsoft does have cause for celebration, many industry insiders – including those who headed companies that manufacture devices with Windows like Acer’s J.T. Wong – came out in opposition of Microsoft running its own hardware business. In Acer’s case it’s possible that the company had its own interests at heart. Microsoft’s stated aim for the Surface family was to showcase what happen when hardware makers actually put Windows 8 and Windows RT on devices of a higher quality.

Read: Microsoft’s Earnings Show Why It’s Still a Threat to Apple and Google

So far, Windows tablet related chatter mostly focuses on the Surface line itself, despite there being competitive options from Dell, Sony, Samsung and more. In the past Microsoft only had the machines of its partners to present their operating systems. Sometimes that worked out, and other times – as in the case of the HP Slate – that didn’t work out.

It’s still early days, but consumers seem to be responding and that’s really the only thing to celebrate right now if these sales numbers are correct.

Travis Pope is a Reporter-at-large for GottaBeMobile. He's currently enjoying a romp in the dangerous quicksand that is Microsoft's Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, and Xbox ecosystem.

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