Some analysts have blamed the Surface tablet’s slow start on its limited retail availability, but now Microsoft is looking to change that. On Tuesday, the longtime PC-software maker announced that it plans to bring the Surface to third party retail locations in addition to its own stores.
“The public reaction to Surface has been exciting to see,” Panos Panay, general manager for Microsoft Surface, said in a statement. “We’ve increased production and are expanding the ways in which customers can interact with, experience and purchase the Surface.”
Microsoft will start rolling out its tablet to stores in the U.S. and Australia beginning in mid-December. On Wednesday, the Windows RT tablet officially made its debut on Best Buy’s website and is expected to hit the company’s brick and mortar locations on Sunday. Staples has also begun offering the tablet through its online store.
“Our plan has been to expand the retail presence for the Surface after the first of every year,” Steve Schueler, corporate vice president for Microsoft Retail Sales and Marketing, said in a statement. “Based on interest from retailers, we are giving them the option to carry Surface with Windows RT even earlier.”
This move directly echoes the words of brokerage firm Detwiler Fenton from earlier this month. In its research notes, the company blamed poor reception of Microsoft’s tablet to a lack of availability and distribution. Detwiler specifically cited Best Buy, saying that the tablet’s minimal exposure at outlets such as these could have been “severely depressing sales.”
In addition to adding the Surface to Best Buy and Staples’ holiday gadget lineup, Microsoft will be extending its holiday pop-up stores into the new year. These retail locations will be made into permanent Microsoft stores or specialty locations, the company said in its statement on Wednesday.
Before today, the tablet was only available through Microsoft’s online store, the company’s 31 retail stores and 34 previously temporary locations. A wider availability could be what Microsoft needs to give the Surface an edge going into the new year. Tablet shoppers will have the chance to get their hands on the device, get a feel for it, and compare it alongside other similar gadgets in person.
Microsoft has not commented on retail availability for its Surface tablet beyond the US and Australia.