Ahead of its launch, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Microsoft is building between 3 and 5 million Surface tablets to sell on the run-up to the holiday season. Clearly, it means business.
The newspaper cites component suppliers in Asia, who have stated that up to 5 million Surfaces could be churned out before Christmas. That's a similar number to those placed for Amazon's Kindle Fire and Google's Nexus 7 in the past, say the suppliers. It is dwarfed, however, by the weigthy 10 million iPad Minis rumored to have been ordered by Apple.
What makes comparisons between all these figures difficult, however, is price. While we have a reasonable idea of the kind of thing we can expect hardware-wise from both Microsoft and, to a lesser extent, Apple, there's still debate over the cost of both the Surface and the iPad Mini, so it's unfair to compare order numbers.
Perhaps more interesting is to compare those orders to current iPad sales figures. Apple managed to shift 17 million iPads in a single quarter earlier this year—so even if Microsoft can move the Surface speedily, it still has some catching up to do.
One thing is clear, though, if these figures are accurate: any pretense that Microsoft had of launching the Surface as a starting point for other manufacturers will be blown out of the water. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is on record as explaining that he was planning for the company to "sell a few million" tablets over the next 12 months—and those order figures tell a different story altogether. [WSJ]