Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
Microsoft hasn't said how many Surface tablets it has sold so far, though various reports put sales at somewhere between disappointing and dismal.
In March, reports indicated that Microsoft had only sold about 1.5 million tablets. Those are really old numbers, we know, but there hasn't been any indication that Surface tablets have gone crazy since then.
The whole PC market, including Windows 8 devices, has been shrinking. And Microsoft is not named among the top PC vendors in market research reports.
There's something that Microsoft could do, tomorrow, that would really help the situation. It could let its entire, massive reseller channel sell tablets to their customers. Resellers pull together hardware and software to sell a whole package, often writing custom software, too. They could do this with Windows 8 and the Surface Pro if Microsoft let them.
Microsoft did recently agree to let a handful of its biggest resellers sell the Surface tablet. But instead of telling the rest of them that they could do the same last week at the company's Worldwide Partner Conference in Houston, COO Kevin Turner said something different.
He told the resellers to bring their customers to a Microsoft Retail store and show them the Surface devices there: "You should feel free to use our store as an extension to your office," he said. "Bring your customers there."
Bob Venero, CEO Future Tech
Bob Venero, CEO of Holbrook, N.Y. reseller Future Tech, was incredulous.
"Really? Hey guys, let's bring our customers in and tell them, 'Look at all of this cool stuff. By the way, you can't buy any of it from us.' What? It's insanity," Venero told Business Insider.
Keeping the Surface away from the channel is also "an emotional issue" for resellers because the Surface is supposed to represent the best Windows 8 PC possible, he said. Why wouldn't Microsoft want its partners to be able to sell the best, he wonders.
Microsoft's reorganization last week doesn't look like it will solve the problem anytime soon.
"I"m trying to figure out the rationale, to understand why they put the Surface under a retail scenario. Xbox is retail. Where clearly the direction we're told from Microsoft is that Surface is for corporate [users] and it wants to drive it into the enterprise."
In that case, it makes even more sense to let resellers sell it, he believes.
Meanwhile, with the Surface firmly out of reach, Venero has other options. He just lead a deal to equip his customer, JetBlue, with 2,500 iPads for its pilots.
"As Microsoft continues to go down this path with Surface and alienating its partners that drive Microsoft solutions, at the end of the day its another slap in the face to the partner community," he told us.
We asked Microsoft why it hasn't made the Surface available to all of its reseller partners. This is Microsoft's response:
"This first phase of authorized resellers were selected because of their extensive knowledge, services and support they’re able to bring to the Surface family. We’ll sign up more resellers and reach more countries in the coming months, but have nothing further to share at this time."
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