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Do You Really Think Microsoft's Growth Hinges on its Surface?

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Here we go again. A couple of weeks ago I discussed the rampant, unsubstantiated rumors surrounding Microsoft's  (NASDAQ: MSFT  )  Surface sales, both good and bad. Surface was obviously selling beyond expectations; hence, the recent announcement from Microsoft sharing its plans to ramp up production, make permanent several of its temporary holiday retail outlets, and ship Surface tablets to several electronic retailers.

But there's been examples of how poorly Surface was selling -- just check out your nearest tech blog. Of course, that's old news now (a couple of weeks, at least), so let's explore the latest information detailing the demise of Microsoft's entry into the world of mobile computing.

The latest data
According to, the data clearly shows Surface is getting "trampled' on the retail scene. The results, if you can call them that, are based on phone conversations by an R.W. Baird analyst with store representatives from Best Buy and Staples. To reinforce the dial-up research, there's also a "tweet analysis" conducted over the holidays.

According to the research, at Best Buy the Surface "was not recommended to us by reps without us asking about it specifically." Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) iPad was the most recommended tablet, along with's (NASDAQ: AMZN  ) Kindle Fire, and Google's (NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) Nexus 10.

It was also pointed out that the Microsoft Surface was available at both retail outlets; that can't be good. With data like that, it's safe to assume the death of the Surface is imminent, right?

Let's look at this from a slightly different angle. Retail reps pushing iPads, Samsung tablets, Kindle Fires, or even Google's Nexus, should surprise absolutely no one. Microsoft just recently shipped its Surface to the two retail outlets included in the "research," as opposed to tablet alternatives that have been in stores for months. Which do you think the reps are more familiar with? So, which do you think they're going to recommend?

Another consideration -- Microsoft Surface has been on the market for just two months. Does anyone, anywhere, really expect any new entry in the mobile computing sweepstakes to unseat Apple, Samsung,, or Google by year's end?

Here's the thing
Much like Google, Microsoft has a few things going for it as it works at making a dent in the hardware market. Namely, Microsoft has numerous, alternative revenue lines giving it time for new products to gain traction. Cloud computing, enterprise offerings and, of course, its new Windows 8 OS, sets Microsoft apart from its new, and old, competitors.

In many ways, IBM (NYSE: IBM  ) remains one of Microsoft's key competitors, and its not exactly noted for its mobile computing prowess. While the focus centers on the recent "research" surrounding its Surface tablet sales, Microsoft continues to crank out new, software-related products and services. One of its latest, Microsoft Office 365, is a cloud-based solution targeting businesses of all sizes. Though its often considered a solution for small and medium-sized companies, Office 365 has Toyota (NYSE: TM  ) as a client.

If you're considering Microsoft as a near-term investment based on surpassing Surface tablet sales goals, you're likely to be disappointed. The mobile computing market is too competitive, and with Apple, Samsung,, and Google already in the game, Microsoft needs time, as do investors. A bet on Microsoft is a lot more than a bet on its Surface tablet -- which is either going well, or just may be the end of Microsoft as we know it (yeah, right).

Neglecting to account for its Xbox sales, enterprise and cloud solutions, business services, and its new operating system, sells Microsoft short -- just as investors have done for much of 2012. Focusing on the most recent rumors of Microsoft's Surface sales is actually good news for value investors.

At just over eight times future earnings, Microsoft remains a fantastic value in an industry poised for growth in 2013. Add in a 3.45% dividend yield, and Microsoft has a lot more to offer investors than a tablet.

It's been a frustrating path for Microsoft investors in 2012, who've watched the company fail to capitalize on the incredible growth of mobile over the past decade. However, the company is now trying to make a splash in this booming market. In this brand-new premium report on Microsoft, our analyst explains that, while the opportunity is huge, the challenges are many. He's also providing regular updates as key events occur, so make sure to claim a copy of this report now by clicking here.

Read/Post Comments (3) | Recommend This Article (6)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On December 28, 2012, at 4:33 AM, bsimpsen wrote:

    It may be too early to declare Surface a failure, but if it does fail, Microsoft is in trouble, so I don't buy your contention that Microsoft's growth does not depend on Surface. Similarly, it may be too early to declare Windows 8 a failure, but if it does fail, Microsoft is in trouble.

    The CEOs of Fujitsu and CFO of Asus have both gone on public record stating that the demand for Windows 8 has been weak/poor. NPD indicates that Win PC sales since the release of Win 8 are down 21% from the same time period one year ago. It's early in the game, but the first inning hasn't gone well for Microsoft.

  • Report this Comment On December 28, 2012, at 1:56 PM, Airlock wrote:

    Lets just put it this way. Microsoft has enough money to fail in this initial surface venture. I see them being able to endure over time, especially if they replace Ballmer with someone more innovative and forward thinking. Remember Xbox entered the market at the bottom of the heap but currently are on top of the gaming console market. Xbox is also taking a leaf out of iTunes model and serving music to users which I think will do well over the long term.

    Surface is not tht bad as a device, and windows 8 phones are very nice too. I think if they take some of the market away from the heavy hitters they stand to do well. G

  • Report this Comment On December 28, 2012, at 10:44 PM, daveshouston wrote:

    Microsoft's stock price has been stagnant from the year 2000. That's the year Steve Ballmer took over as CEO.

    Ballmer just hasn't worked out as the head honcho. They need a product guy rather than a sales guy in that role.

    Even then, I fear it is too late for Microsoft to regain their preeminent position in high tech. They are so far behind Google and Apple that it's hard to see them getting back into the discussion.

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