Update (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.
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.“
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.