Home Your Tech Home Tech Microsoft’s tablets to Surface at JB Hi-Fi and Hardly Normals?

Microsoft’s tablets to Surface at JB Hi-Fi and Hardly Normals?

A news report suggests that Microsoft’s Australian resurfacing of the tablet landscape is set to start happening at Aussie retail icons, JB HiFi and Harvey Norman.

Quick, what’s the weirdest thing about Microsoft’s massive ad campaign for its Surface tablets, complete with pithy marketing lines such as “Divide and Conquer”?

Well, it’s simple. Go into any retail store to take a look at a Microsoft Surface, and to have a play, just as you can with iPads and notebooks, and you’ll come away extremely disappointed, as finding a Surface in a retail store is much like finding one on the surface of the planet Mars – they’re just not there.

However, it seems the dead calm surface of Surface retail sales is about get a big shakeup, following news late last week that Microsoft’s tablets were set to surface at retailers in the US, as we covered here.

We did wonder when this might happen in Australia, and now a news report from Smarthouse suggests that JB Hi Fi is set to sell Microsoft’s Surface RT tablet “before Christmas”, with its hardly normal competitor, Harvey Norman, also set to take Surface RT retail stock.

This most likely means these retail stores – and others in Australia – will also be selling Microsoft’s Windows 8-powered Surface Pro tablet from late January, too, although this will probably spill into early February or later if Microsoft struggles in getting Surface Pro tablets into wide, global distribution.

Smarthouse quotes JB Hi-Fi’s marketing director, Scott Browning, admitting that talks between Microsoft and JB had been happening for “some time”, with the glaringly huge issue revolving around “stock levels” and it’s really still possible to get Surface RT stock on JB showroom floors pre-Christmas.

Mr Browning is also quoted stating “This is a product that needs to be exposed to a consumer; they need to touch and feel it and only retail stores can do this. Online is a commodity sell and if a consumer does not know the product or has not seen it in store it is always going to be harder to sell online".

No discounts are expected to be offered for Surface devices sold at retail, despite calls from analysts for Microsoft to drop Surface pricing, as we previously covered.

Perhaps JB will do its usual deal of at least a couple of dollars off, as it does with iPads, but clearly, nothing more competitive than that.

So… if you’ve been seeing all these Surface ads on buses and billboards, and have wondered how one of the world’s major companies could do this without customers actually being able to find one in stores, this captivatingly curious retail conundrum is soon set to stop being such an enigma.


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.