Counting the ways Windows RT is in trouble could keep you busy for hours — assuming you had the patience.
Microsoft’s (MSFT) foray into the world of consumer tablets and tablet operating systems started off splashy and full of hype, but soon suffered from the polar opposite of the iPad effect. While companies were piling on the Apple (AAPL) bandwagon, sending iPad sales through the roof and kicking off the tablet revolution, they can’t seem to distance themselves fast enough from the steaming mess of Windows RT.
Instead of serving as Microsoft’s launchpad to reclaiming past PC glory in the mobile computing paradigm, Windows RT has hurt the company. But just how bad is it?
Before I start getting accused of bashing Microsoft and favoring Apple, let me state up front that Microsoft has had encouraging success with its Windows 8 Pro tablet efforts. According to IDC, in Q2 2013, Windows 8 tablets captured a 4% marketshare worldwide, moving 1.8 million units.
Microsoft’s own Surface Pro hasn’t fared as well as the company hoped — one of the reasons the company has slashed prices by $100 in time for back-to-school buying season. That being said, as a platform, going from zero to 4% of world tablet sales in less than a year is a decent accomplishment. I’ve reviewed a number of Windows 8 tablets and the experience with some of them was quite good.
I still think Windows 8 tablets have a future in the enterprise market (less so in the consumer world), but Microsoft’s own Surface Pro tablet is (or was) too expensive and a tad bulky.
Now back to Windows RT and Microsoft’s Windows RT tablet. I’m not going to make you read through all the gory details. If you’ve been following the technology industry at all, you can probably cite half of them by heart, but here are a few key bullet points:
- In Q2 2013 Windows RT tablet shipments numbered 200k (worldwide), barely outperforming BlackBerry’s (BBRY) outdated and abandoned Playbook tablet.
- Microsoft took a $900 million write-down on unsold tablets, mostly of the Surface RT variety, “kneecaping” Microsoft’s stock down 11%.
- The Surface RT has been selling at a 30% discount in an attempt to move stock, in addition to a two-month discount at $199 to educational customers.
- Key Microsoft manufacturing partners, including HTC, Samsung (SSNLF), Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) and most recently Asus have bailed on plans for RT tablets.
- Nvidia (NVDA) — the company that makes the Tegra processors that power RT tablets — is blaming a $300 million hit to its bottom line on Windows RT’s poor performance.
So just how badly has Windows RT hurt Microsoft?