Microsoft said on Tuesday it would make its Surface tablet computer available to outside sellers as soon as the middle of this month, citing interest from retailers as well as consumers.
“The public reaction to Surface has been exciting to see. We’ve increased production and are expanding the ways in which customers can interact with, experience and purchase Surface,” Surface general manager Panos Panay said, without providing any specific sales figures.
A Microsoft statement said retail stores in the US and Australia would be the first to sell the introductory Surface model with Windows RT, which has many features of a tablet, along with an attachable cover-keyboard.
A separate statement from the retailer Staples said it would carry Microsoft Surface at all its retail stores and Staples.com as early yesterday.
Retail availability in other countries will be announced in the coming months, said Microsoft, which began selling the Surface through its Web site, its “pop-up” holiday stores and permanent branded stores.
“Our plan has been to expand the retail presence for Surface after the first of the year,” Microsoft vice president of retail sales and marketing Steve Schueler said. “Based on interest from retailers, we are giving them the option to carry Surface with Windows RT even earlier.”
Although Microsoft has provided no sales data, analysts have said Surface is getting only a small segment of the tablet market led by Apple’s iPad, Amazon’s Kindle and several others powered by the Google Android system.
Surface, with a starting price of US$499, is now sold at Microsoft retail stores in the US and Canada and online in the US, Australia, Britain Canada, China, France and Germany.