Microsoft won't reveal sales figures, but according to market watcher IHS iSuppli, of 1.25 million Surface tablets shipped during the fourth quarter of 2012, only 55 per cent to 60 per cent were purchased, leaving half the stock to gather dust on shop and warehouse shelves.
Adding to Microsoft's Surface RT woes, along with the lukewarm response, IHS reported a ''very high'' return rate on the device, which it attributed to the steep learning curve required to use the Windows 8 OS.
There are no Microsoft stores in Australia, so consumers willing to buy the Surface RT online (and wait up to three weeks for a pre-order) had to take a leap of faith. Smart says that's not a risk an average consumer is willing to take. ''People like to feel the weight, touch the interface and understand the accessories, and when they can't do that, there are a lot of great alternatives out there. You've got to be a fanboy to wait three weeks for one pre-ordered online.''
With the Surface RT languishing in warehouses and the Surface Pro just about unobtainable - stores estimate a month's wait on orders - Microsoft seems to know no middle ground.