Finally, good news for Microsoft: Surface Pro 128GB sells out within hours

It has finally happened–Microsoft has a hit, a device that consumers can’t wait to have, something that’s as much in demand as, say, the initial releases of the latest iPad or iPhone models.

On Saturday, the 64GB and 128GB Surface Pro went on sale for the first time. Within hours, the 128GB model sold out online, according to PCWorld.com:

Shoppers for $1000 tablet [sic] at the online outlets of Best Buy and Staples, as well as Microsoft’s own web store, began seeing “not available” or “out of stock” notices just hours after midnight Eastern Time when the Windows 8 slate went on sale.

“Checked BestBuy: Surface Pro unavailable online, no stores within 400 miles w/ 128GB model in stock,” tweeted technology writer Ed Bott.

Although the 128GB edition of the Surface Pro has sold out online, that’s not the case with its $899 sibling, which has 64GB of solid state storage.

Addresses storage issue

Surface Pro 64GB sales  may be suffering from criticism it has received for the actual amount of storage space it provides for user content. Of the 64GB of space on its SSD, only 23GB (36 percent) is available to a user. By contrast, the 128GB Surface Pro has 83GB available to users, or 65 percent of the drive.

Microsoft has been a little slippery on the actual amount of space available on the slates. Just before the tablets went on sale, Redmond recanted its initial numbers and bumped up the available space on the 64GB Surface Pro to 29GB and on its bigger sibling to 89GB.

As news of the Surface shortages spread, Microsoft issued a statement to the press:

“Customer response to the launch of Surface Pro has been amazing. The Microsoft Online Store is currently out of stock of the Surface Pro. Our priority is to ensure that every customer gets their new Surface Pro as soon as possible. We are replenishing our supplies as quickly as possible.”

Would-be buyers grouse

Microsoft’s miscalculation on the 128GB Surface Pro didn’t win them any kudos from discomfited Surface seekers on Reddit.

“We were first in line at the nearest Best Buy this morning and it seems that Microsoft only shipped enough devices to fulfill Best Buy’s pre-orders and one extra 64GB model,” lamented one Surface Pro 128GB shopper.

“There’s not a single 128 unspoken for in the country,” another wrote. “I don’t know how they could have grossly underestimated the demand like this.”

“All of the Best Buy stores in my area were only given one 128GB,” a disappointed Surface seeker noted. “The two Staples in my area that I went to weren’t even supplied with the 128GB. Microsoft has a large enough marketing and research company that they should know better.”

Microsoft isn’t used to having a hit product on the scale of an iPhone or iPad. If the Surface Pro is such a product, let’s hope it can show the Redmond faithful that it knows how to handle success and fill the pipeline with more Surface Pro 128s quickly so that Surface fans unable to buy a unit Saturday won’t have long to stew in their juices of disappointment.

Ah, there’s the rub. Let’s say you’re Microsoft, and after much hand-wringing and anxiety   you’ve finally scored with a device that people are clamoring for…and, you sell out within hours of its release.

But here’s where the story gets ugly: you can’t produce more units fast enough, and weeks go by before you’re able to replenish your supply. However, during this time, consumer demand has cooled towards your product, and potential buyers appear to have found a suitable replacement in Brand X. You’ve lost your chance to cash in big with that hot new product consumers would have stood in line to get.

For Microsoft’s sake, let’s hope that’s not the final chapter in this tale. But it very well could happen.

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