When Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) released the Surface Book 2-in-1 notebook PC in late 2015, it turned a lot of heads. Its signature dynamic fulcrum hinge and detachable display were impressive.
Apparently, MSFT’s first foray into building its own PC was not impressive enough to generate sales, though.
According to a report from DigiTimes, the company’s Surface Book 2 will arrive in the next month or so. If the website is correct, the Surface Book 2 will arrive as a traditional laptop — no removable tablet screen — and will feature a significantly lower price in an effort to jumpstart the numbers.
The Surface Book
When Microsoft decided to take the next step into the hardware game by building its own laptop, it wanted to enter the market with a premium device. One that would show consumers and other manufacturers what a flagship laptop could do with Windows 10.
The key features on the Surface Book were its removable display — able to be used as a standalone Windows tablet — and the dynamic fulcrum hinge that made the transformation possible. Although it was an engineering marvel, the hinge did have the downside of making the laptop thicker and a gap allowed dirt to get into the keyboard when closed. When MSFT refreshed the device in late 2016, it was not the Surface Book 2 some had hoped for, but a spec bump with a slight tweaking on that hinge.
Surface Book Sales Failed to Materialize
While Microsoft accomplished the goal of making its mark as a premium PC vendor and won kudos for the Surface Book’s innovative design, this didn’t pay off with sales. The MSFT 2-in-1 laptop caused some overlap with the Surface Pro — a tablet with an optional keyboard case that could turn it into a laptop. With a price range of $1,499 to $3,199, it was also expensive, which didn’t help.
The company bragged about converts from Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) MacBook laptops, especially when the MacBook Pro launch stumbled. But it was always careful to refer to Surface as a platform, instead of specifically saying those disappointed Mac fans switched to a Surface Book.
DigiTimes says the company shipped just 500,000 Surface Books in 2016. Apple, in comparison, sold nearly 5.9 million Mac laptops in the first half of 2016 alone. PC World put it this way: “it’s unclear whether the Surface Book is unpopular or simply niche.”
Reports of poor Surface Book sales had analysts questioning whether MSFT would even bother releasing a Surface Book 2.