BandSalesGate: the (Semi)Final Chapter

The stealth launch of the Microsoft Band will probably go down in History as the most successful, and occasionally baffling, new product launch in Microsoft’s history. If you’ve been sleeping in a cave for the last few weeks here’s how it unfolded:

"Bands Away!"
“Bands Away!”

After months of rumors pointing to Microsoft developing a SmartWatch, or a Fitness Band, out of the blue an App appears on the iOS Store for the “Microsoft Band”. Within minutes similar Apps populated the Android and Windows Stores, and at 12:01am the Band was offered for sale on the Microsoft Online Store.

If you hadn’t been so lucky as to be looking at the all this unfold online you were unlikely to have bought a Band as they sold out online very quickly that day.

The great reviews the Band garnered, combined with its being sold out on line, and having limited availability in Microsoft Stores, led to much speculation on the internet that the Launch had taken place with an unusual, maybe, unprecedented, small amount of stock. Many voices speculated that Microsoft did this intentionally to make the Band look like it was more desirable than it was.

Now, here at MSPR didn’t agree with that, but the clear mismatch between the supply and demand made the question of launch volume worth looking into.

About two weeks after the launch I was told by a MS Service Rep for the Band that they only had 5,000 on hand at launch. He was quite certain, but we would not take the word of a single Service Rep for granted, so we reached out to MS for confirmation. They replied twice, once to say they would not comment, and the second time to try and give a bit of perspective. As we reported earlier, we were told that:

“we don’t officially share or comment on specific numbers but, so you’re aware, we have built and have sold well beyond 5,000 units.”

"Uuuuhhhh... I Think I Read That Right'''"
“Uuuuhhhh… I Think I Read That Right”'”

So we ran the story, in which we at no time stated that Microsoft claimed to only have 5,000 bands at launch. In fact, we were very clear that this was a statement from a Service Rep, and the Official Microsoft position was quite different.

Certain other websites who picked up our story, apparently read our Article before they had their morning Starbucks, because they incorrectly claimed that we did state there were only 5,000 Bands at launch, then following in our footsteps, they also contacted Microsoft, and got the same answer we had already published, but presented it as if it was something new they had dug up themselves.

"Hey You, Yah the WC Guy. You'd Agree We Were Here First, Right!"
“Hey You, Yah the WC Guy. You’d Agree We Were Here First, Right!”

Besides ‘discovering’ that more than 5,000 Bands had been sold, in the same sense that Columbus ‘discovered’ a continent with inhabitants that had already been there for 40,000 years, and visited by Europeans at least half a millennium before, what other sites missed in all this was that this statement was made two weeks AFTER the initial launch, so you could read it to mean that the amount available at launch could have been anything, but that two weeks after launch, the total of those available at launch and those built and sold after launch exceeded 5,000.

Since the situation was still upon to interpretation, we reached out again to Microsoft and asked them to clarify, once and for all, the number of MS Bands available at launch, or at least, to be unambiguous regarding whether it was more than 5,000. They told us this:

“… correct. I was referring to numbers available at the time of launch”.

"Building As Fast As Possible'
“Building As Fast As Possible’

So there we have it. Microsoft has unambiguously stated they had well more than 5,000 Bands available at launch, just as we originally wrote. So from now on, we will have to wait for some Financial statements to try to learn what we can about sales numbers. Let’s just leave it that certainly Microsoft would have loved to have had more on Launch day, and you can be assured that somewhere, people are working very hard to bring more Bands to the legions of fans clamoring for them here in the US. Given the number of people in other Countries where it is not yet available who are also clamoring for it on line, any that they can make between now and the end of the Holliday Season, is likely to be snapped up quickly.

 

Microsoft's online store to receive a limited number of Microsoft Bands Tuesday

Microsoft-Band---official-images

For those of you waiting to get your hands on Microsoft’s newest wearable device, you may be in luck this Tuesday, but you’ll have place your order right way.  The Microsoft Store website will be selling the Microsoft Band at 1PM Eastern Time, and quantities will be limited again.

“Limited availability this Tuesday, November 18 at 1:00 PM EST. Get yours while you can, available on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last.”

Microsoft expects to have more Bands arriving throughout the holiday season so if you happen to miss out on Tuesday, you’ll have plenty of chances to get more.

The Microsoft Band is set to be a hot item this holiday season, and we’re curious if Microsoft will end up releasing sales figures for its wearable by the end of the year, as the software giant still has hasn’t officially disclosed any official information on the topic.

However,we did end up speaking to a Microsoft Band support rep and the number they gave us was quite surprising.

Source: Microsoft Store

How Many Bands Did Microsoft Have at Launch? Would You Believe 5,000?

Microsoft-Band---official-imagesUpdate (Tuesday November 18, 2014 2:24PM)Today’s online stock of Microsoft Band sells out in 15 minutes! Click here to read more.

By now the ‘Stealth Launch’ of the Microsoft Band is quickly becoming a legend. Quantities were so limited at launch that it sold out on line within hours. That sounds more like a gold-plated iPhone launch than an unexpected new Microsoft product release, but that’s how it was.

And to a large extent, it still is. It’s been a couple of weeks now and the Band is still Out Of Stock online, and reports are that most stores are out as well.

There has been a lot of speculation online that Microsoft did this deliberately, to create the appearance that this was a highly desired and successful product. Personally, I don’t think that makes much sense, but clearly there was a mis-match between supply and demand.

A while ago I called the Microsoft Band Support people to inquire about an ‘update’ that showed up for the Band. As we reported, it turned out that this wasn’t an update to the Band, but rather to an App that wanted to communicate with the Band.

"Feeling Lucky...Punk?"
“Feeling Lucky…Punk?”

While I was on the line I mentioned how lucky I seemed to have been to get one of them before they sold out. “You’re luckier than you think, Microsoft only had 5,000 of them for the launch.” he said.

That hit me like a thunderbolt. “Five thousand!”, I exclaimed. “Are you kidding me!”. “No.” He replied, “Five thousand. Five, zero, zero, zero. That’s all. They’re working hard now to build more to meet the demand, but we have no idea when they will be back in stock again.”

I asked him to repeat the number back to me, just so I was sure I understood. He did, and again, the number was just 5,000.

That’s an amazingly small product launch. There’s testing the waters, but this would be more like testing a puddle!

Now, Support people are an interesting group. Sometimes they know more than they should, and sometimes they know less than they need to, and sometimes they don’t know as much as they think they do. Most of the time I’ve found they know what they need to solve basic issues, so even though it was a recent and very interesting event, one wonders why a support rep would be privy to launch stock volume information.

After all, this IS Microsoft. How long did it take them to release sales numbers for the Xbox One? So in the interests of keeping facts straight, we reached out to Microsoft and asked them to comment on the information their rep had given me.

Initially, their response, was, well, I’ll let you read it:

From a Microsoft spokesperson:

“We are excited by the response we have seen to Microsoft Band but Microsoft does not comment on production volumes.”

That’s not saying much is it. It neither confirmed nor denied the accuracy of the information at hand. Having added nothing to the conversation, we were just going to have to go with what we had. I guess Microsoft figured that out, because after a short while they added the following:

we don’t officially share or comment on specific numbers but, so you’re aware, we have built and have sold well beyond 5,000 units.

"Well?  Do You?"
“Well? Do You?” Hurry up. ‘Cause I gotta go order some Starbucks with this thing!”

So there you have it. Was it 5,000, or “well beyond 5,000 units.”?  Personally, I thought the 5,000 number was low, but clearly they had a lot fewer than they could have sold. Let’s hope they will be able to work through the backlog soon.  Both Black Friday and Christmas are coming up, as are a number of Openings of new Microsoft Stores (we will be covering some of them) so there will be a lot of people hoping to see one on their wrist soon.