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Hold the phone, Microsoft’s Surface RT is New Zealand bound

01 Mar 2013

Remember when the All Blacks won the World Cup? When the U.S. caught Osama Bin Laden? Or when Ronan Keating walked into a Ponsonby bar this week? Just me?

Oh well, mark March 15 as the date Microsoft's Surface RT heads to New Zealand.

Ignoring Kiwi plea bargains since mid-October* last year, Microsoft has finally caved, whacking a batch of tablets on the Air New Zealand NZ7 scheduled flight from San Francisco to Auckland this evening.

Think I made that flight up? Check for yourself, we don't joke around here at Techday.

The Surface RT, which comes with the Windows RT operating system, will be available for consumers to buy from $739 RRP, exclusively at JB Hi-Fi and Harvey Norman stores across New Zealand.

Launched with the task of directly challenging Apple's iPad, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was unsurprisingly bullish about the Surface's chances of breaking into a toughening tablet market at the time of the launch.

Feeling "pretty good about your level of innovation" is one thing however, but in truth Microsoft's tablet strategy has been in "disarray."

In December Boston-based brokerage firm Detwiler Fenton told Forbes the company would struggle to shift many units of the product before Christmas last year, expecting Microsoft to sell less than one million Surface RT tablets during the month.

"The Surface has been in hot demand overseas," argues Paul Muckleston, MD, Microsoft New Zealand. "And we are one of only a handful of countries where both the Surface RT and Surface Pro will be available within the coming months."

Oh that's right, the Surface Pro is expected to follow over the coming months. Suppose we can always save that topic for a rainy day.

Fellow hack Donovan Jackson raised the Surface RT issue in early February, check out Nobody wants the Surface RT, will we care about the Pro?

The company initially built between 3-5 million Surface tablets during the fourth quarter of 2012, planning to begin a “large volume production” of its first tablet product according to component supplier sources in Asia.

With my glass always half empty, always, Microsoft's decision to expand the Surface sales push could be viewed as sign of it's success, or a desperate need to claw some cash back into the think pot.

Japan, Mexico, Russia, Singapore and Taiwan will soon receive the Surface RT; and the Surface Pro will also be released in Australia, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, and the United Kingdom over the coming months.

In this case, maybe the intense judging should save until then?

"We are excited to offer Kiwis a chance to experience this new category of devices that bring together entertainment and personal productivity into a beautifully designed, highly mobile form factor," Muckleston says.

But now the question for Microsoft is will Kiwis care about either?

* Please note: Such plea bargains expired late October.

For more information on Microsoft's Surface RT, click here

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