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Surface sales left out of Microsoft milestones, but they simply can’t hide

Microsoft positioned its Surface tablet as a direct competitor to the iPad when it initially launched late last year, and, as witnessed by an aggressive ad campaign that features the Surface and iPad going head-to-head, Microsoft really wants to create a dent in iPad sales. However, it’s actually been the other way around.

Microsoft launched a new website yesterday that focuses on some of the company’s milestones as far as numbers and statistics of its products and services are concerned. Microsoft features such achievements, like how many Xbox consoles have been sold, how many Windows 8 licenses have been sold, the number of Outlook users, and even how many minutes people spend on Skype. The Xbox 360 has arguably been one of Microsoft’s most successful products to date, being the best-selling gaming console in the U.S. for over two straight years now. However, one product missing from the wall of milestones is Microsoft’s Surface tablet.

This isn’t too surprising, though. Microsoft has been rather mum about Surface sales ever since the launch of the tablet lineup last year. Then again, in its SEC filings for the fiscal year ending June 30, the company recently revealed that it raked in $853 million in revenue from the Surface since its launch. Just from that number alone, we were able to calculate an estimate of how many Surface units Microsoft sold between mid-October of 2012 and the end of June. Just using an average selling price of $500 per tablet gives us 1.7 million Surface tablets sold in total, and that’s being quite generous, considering that Microsoft also has the Surface Pro, which starts at a whopping $900.

To compare 1.7 million Surface tablets sold to iPad sales, Apple ended up selling 14.6 million iPads during the last quarter alone, and this is actually down from 17 million iPads a year ago. Furthermore, when Apple launched its new iPad and iPad mini last fall, the company sold more tablets in just a few days than Microsoft has sold Surface tablets altogether since its initial launch last year.

But $853 million in revenue just from the Surface alone seems pretty good, right? Not exactly. That number isn’t counting the $900 million loss that the company took due to Surface “inventory adjustments,” and that’s also not counting the massive amounts of cash that Microsoft probably spent on advertising for the product – we’re guessing those Surface vs. iPad commercials weren’t cheap, nor were those choreographed dancing numbers.

So, does this mean that the Surface will go down as one of the biggest technology flops in recent years? Sales-wise, it certainly seems that way, but the Surface is a quality product, and it was merely brought into the world during a time when other tablets have already taken over the market. It could be a mixture of bad luck and the way Microsoft marketed the tablet initially, but hopefully the second-generation Surface will be able to turn some more heads.