The much anticipated launch of the Microsoft Surface tablets is less than 20 days away. So far, word is that the product will only be sold through Microsoft's own retail stores. Alternative retailers remains largely guesswork. If that's the only destined distribution channel, it means relatively limited availability for Americans, and a big red "no way" to everyone elsewhere.
According to latest leaks from Chinese site WPDang though, the situation will not be that bad. At least in China, Surfaces will be sold through Suning (reads "soo-ning"), one of the country's leading consumer gadget retail chains.
If true, the story makes Suning the first known third-party distributor of Surface tablets. The chain has extensive reach in China, plus a great relationship with Microsoft as it was selected as the primary distributor of Windows Phone devices. Back in May 2012, Suning's president went to Redmond to palaver with Steve Ballmer about potential cooperation on Windows and Windows Phone products. Apparently Surface is part of it.
The reasoning goes like this: if it could happen here, it could happen elsewhere. For those whose country isn't fortunate enough to be covered by Microsoft's own retail network, please keep an eye on your local leading gadget sellers--there's a good chance they are going to carry Surface.
Speaking of distribution, availability and market coverage, there's some interesting note I would like to share with everyone:
...The only Microsoft offline "flagship store" in China I know of. A true disgrace.
If Microsoft wants any availability in this market, they just HAVE TO turn to somebody.
Readers, if you have heard about Surface availability through your local distributors, or have funny snapshots of your local Microsoft store, please don't hesitate to share.
A Windows Phone app discovery service "WindowsPhone应用推荐" just revealed on the social media site Sina weibo that that they've got hold on a Suning staffer training sheet. According to the pic, Suning employees just had a Surface sales training session about 12 hours ago. This makes the rumor even more credible. The guys at WindowsPhone应用推荐 is now trying to uncover Suning's pricing.