Microsoft aimed to boost the sales of its Windows tablets with a special holiday deal on the Dell Venue Pro. It turns out, the deal was so good that some customers were walking away angry.
That's because the $99 price tag on the Windows 8.1 Dell Venue 8 Pro tablet sent the tablet shopping, bargain hunting masses to their nearest Microsoft store to pick up one of the mobile devices -- and there weren't enough to go around.
The $99 price tag was a one-day-only sale and each customer could only purchase one device. In order to get your hands on the tablet you had to be one of the first 20 buyers at one of Microsoft's brick-and-mortar stores stateside.
What Are We Buying?
This is a deep discount, given that the tablet usually sells for $299. Customers who were late to the Microsoft store still got an attractive deal, though. The price was $199 while supplies lasted, and then back up to $299 after the first run was sold.
So what exactly were customers rushing to Microsoft stores to buy? Dell is marketing its Venue 8 Pro Windows 8.1-based tablets as catering to the level of performance, design and responsiveness end-users want while offering IT departments what they need -- the ability to integrate into an existing corporate environment with full compatibility with current Windows applications and Microsoft Office integration.
The Venue 8 Pro also offers optional advanced security features and services. Dell said the Venue 8 Pro has a bright HD IPS display, advanced connectivity options and provides long battery life so range anxiety is no longer an issue. Office 2013 Home & Student is included with the device, and there is an optional Dell Active Stylus.
A Special Mood
We asked Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, for his thoughts on the sell-out. He told us at $99, he was not surprised to hear the tablet was moving fast.
"At that price, you are not going to be able to meet demand," Enderle said. "I think anything you sell that has this kind of a discount is probably going to move pretty well. The Venues are just an example of that."
Enderle pointed to Black Friday sales and noted that iPads sold well on special and other Microsoft tablets sold well on special. "People are really in a special mood right now," he quipped.
The question is whether the Dell Venue Pro 8 stunt will be enough to generate a special feeling about Windows 8.1 tablets that lasts beyond the deep discounts. Although IDC is predicting Windows tablets will increase to more than 10 percent market share by 2017, that's still a relatively small share of the market.