Fourth Quarter iPad Sales Walk All Over Surface RT

After looking at the sales figures for Surface RT, Microsoft may find itself haunted by the words of Acer chairman and CEO JT Wang. Back in August, Wang stated in an interview with The Financial Times that Microsoft should "think twice" about launching a tablet of its own, saying that hardware is "not something you are good at." In our own review of Surface RT, we actually though Surface was fairly well designed, but we did (and still do) have concerns about the stiff competition it faces. Here's why.

UBS analyst Brent Thill estimates Microsoft sold just 1 million Surface RT tablets in the fourth quarter of 2012, whereas previously he had forecast 2 million units, Business Insider reports. Apple, meanwhile, is expected to announce over 20 million iPad sales in the same quarter.

Surface RT

In other words, the iPad outsold Surface RT by a ratio of 20:1, and did it during Surface RT's coming out party. To be fair, Surface RT didn't launch until the end of October, giving the iPad almost a full month head start in comparing Q4 shipments. However, the disparity is so large that it hardly matters. Even if the iPad 'only' outsold Surface RT by a 15:1 ratio, the conclusion is the same: consumers are choosing Apple's tablet over Microsoft's slate.

None of this means Surface as a whole is a failure. It's still early in the game and consumers are coming to grips with Windows 8/RT, which represents the most radical change to Windows since XP. Furthermore, Surface Pro tablets could draw additional interest, particularly among the tech savvy who might want to run legacy apps, which aren't supported by Windows RT.