Talking tech since 2003

Early this morning, Microsoft boasted that the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 tablets are pre-selling like gangbusters. Behold this tweet from Microsoft’s Developer account:

Clearly the first intention of that Tweet is to incite app makers and software developers to focus on making programs for the Windows Store, which is definitely an area in which Microsoft is improving. But the second intention is to brag about how well the Surface 2 is doing as we approach its late-October release in stores.

And that’s great: no one’s happier than I am that Microsoft is figuring out how to get the Surface right. But this boast also raises an important question, which is pretty well pointed out on CNET today: just what does “selling out” mean this time around?

A term like “selling out” means a specific thing, of course—namely that the company’s stock on a particular item is depleted due to great sales. But what’s not clear from this tweet is just how much stock there was in the first place. As we all know now, the first iteration of the Surface could easily be considered a flop, if not from a critical standpoint, but certainly in terms of its sluggish sales. Back in July, Microsoft revealed that it’d lost $900 million in making the Surface and Surface Pro, and that the company had “built a few more devices than [they] could sell.”

So what’s the situation with the Surface 2? I think it’s pretty safe to assume that, even without actual numbers to illustrate the situation, Microsoft is going to be much more conservative with the number of devices it manufactures so as not to get stuck with warehouses full of unsold Surface tablets. And given that assumption, is coming close to selling out of the Surface 2 a laudable achievement?

I think so, if for no other reason than it shows Microsoft actively learning its lessons and adapting to circumstances quickly. Furthermore, even if the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 are manufactured in far shorter supply, that will make them more desirable devices. Artificial scarcity is still scarcity. And, to be honest, hearing that the Surface Pro 2 is selling out just makes me want one even more.

Now, that probably says more about me and my easily manipulated impulses as a shopper than anything, but I have a good feeling that Microsoft’s second attempt at the Windows 8 tablet will go a lot better than its first. Just like how the original Xbox’s stumbles paved the way for the monstrous success of the Xbox 360, don’t be shocked if the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 starts showing up in more people’s hands.

What do you think? Are you going to get one when it launches on October 22?

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