Earlier this week, Microsoft unveiled its next-generation tablets, the Surface 2 and the Surface Pro 2. The upgraded tablets are relatively conservative improvements on Microsoft's Surface lineup, and the company did not significantly drop the price of the tablets.
DigiTimes today reported that Microsoft is expected to ship a combined 3 million units of its next-generation Surface devices in the next year. The report's unnamed "upstream supply chain" sources state that Surface tablets will likely account for just over 1% of global tablet shipments in 2014.
Three million Surfaces is significantly fewer than Microsoft manufactured last year, when the company expected its tablets to truly compete with Apple's iPad and Android-based tablets in an already crowded market. Market research firm IDC, as quoted by DigiTimes, has estimated that Microsoft sold just 1.2 million of its current-generation Surface tablets during the first half of 2013. In July Microsoft showed just how badly it had overestimated its tablets' potential success, taking a $900 million charge for excess stock of Surface RT tablets.
With the tablet market only getting more crowded with newer low-priced mini-tablets in a variety of sizes, even three million might seem optimistic for Microsoft. The high price of the Surface Pro 2 ($899) makes it a particularly hard sell for consumers shopping for tablets. Though the tablet market is still expected to beat out sales of traditional PCs this holiday season, there are signs that the tablet market's explosive growth is already slowing. With western markets on the cusp of saturation, the emerging markets where analysts predict strong growth in the coming years are not the same markets where relatively expensive Surfaces are likely to sell.