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Why Microsoft Surface Sales Are Soaring on MacBook Pro ‘Disappointment’

December 12, 2016, 3:17 PM UTC

Microsoft is having a successful holiday season, thanks in part to Apple’s MacBook Pro, the company said in a blog post on Monday.

November was Microsoft’s best month ever for consumer Surface sales, Microsoft marketing executive Brian Hall said in a statement on Monday. While Hall didn’t share unit sales, he did say that a Best Buy-exclusive (BBY) Surface bundle sold out on its first day of availability, and the company’s Surface Hub machine has garnered demand that “far exceeds” Microsoft’s expectations. Microsoft (MSFT) has also benefited from what Hall said is poor performance for Macs.

“More people are switching from Macs to Surface than ever before,” Hall said. “Our trade-in program for MacBooks was our best ever, and the combination of excitement for the innovation of Surface coupled with the disappointment of the new MacBook Pro—especially among professionals—is leading more and more people to make the switch to Surface.”

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Absent actual sales data, it’s difficult to say how well Microsoft’s Surface line of computers actually performed in November. It’s also unclear what metric Microsoft is using to call the MacBook Pro a “disappointment.”

Apple (AAPL) unveiled its new MacBook Pro in October. The computer comes in 13- and 15-inch versions and has an organic light-emitting diode touch display above the keyboard that allows users to interact in new ways with software. It also features a Touch ID sensor for additional security. Apple has called the MacBook Pro one of its biggest releases in history.

Soon after the announcement, Apple executives, in interviews with several publications, said the MacBook Pro was selling well. Last month, for instance, Apple senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller said the MacBook Pro had secured more sales through the Apple online retail store than any of the company’s other professional-focused notebooks. A report out of Apple’s supply chain followed, saying that the company was boosting its number of orders to satisfy demand.

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Also last month, research firm Slice Intelligence said MacBook Pro had already outsold all of its competitors, and had nearly quadrupled the number of sales Microsoft had secured for its closest MacBook Pro competitor, the Surface Book. According to Apple’s online store, orders placed now on the MacBook Pro won’t ship for at least two weeks.

But Apple isn’t the only factor Microsoft cited for its Surface success. The company added that the new Surface Book with Performance Base notebook unveiled in October is available in more markets, and will be coming to more countries in the coming year. Microsoft added that it’s shipped Surface Hubs to more than 2,000 customers in 24 markets. Each order had an average of 50 units, suggesting unit sales of around 100,000 units.

Hours after publishing the blog post on Monday, Microsoft added new language to it to saying that some of the 100,000 Surface tablets ordered haven’t yet shipped to customers. It’s a subtle but important point because Microsoft can’t actually count sales until they’re shipped. At least some of the units, the update suggests, haven’t yet shipped and therefore cannot be considered sales.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Microsoft’s claims.

Update on 12/12/16 at 6:13 p.m. ET to add details about Microsoft’s blog update that said it has 100,000 orders for the Surface Hub, but that some of those devices haven’t shipped.