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Surface sales may exceed 1M in Q4, says researcher

Microsoft's first PC product is expected to see sales of more than 1 million units in the fourth quarter.

Microsoft Surface RT tablet.
Microsoft Surface RT tablet.

Microsoft's Surface RT tablet is expected to see sales of more than a million units in the fourth quarter, IHS iSuppli told CNET today.

"We see estimated sales of 1.3 million" in the quarter, Rhoda Alexander, an analyst at IHS iSuppli, said in a phone interview today. The fourth quarter still has a few weeks left.

"I would be surprised to see it much above that," she added as a qualifier.

The Surface RT version of Microsoft's tablet first went on sale October 26, well into the fourth quarter, so sales of over a million would have occurred in roughly two months.

By comparison, Google's Nexus 7 tablet, which went on sale in June, started at a pace of about 500,000 units a month and is now selling at close to 1 million per month. The Nexus 7 has an entry-level price of $199, whereas the Surface RT tablet -- which runs a limited version of Windows 8 -- starts at $499.

Market-leading Apple sold 14 million iPads in the third quarter.

But other analyst estimates that came out today for Surface RT sales put the number below 1 million.

A Boston-based brokerage firm, Detwiler Fenton, claimed in a research note today that Microsoft is likely to sell less than a million units in the December quarter.

Initial Surface RT orders that came to Asia suppliers a month back "were really aggressive," Alexander said, but those numbers weren't "borne out."

Ballpark estimates for those initial numbers were recently brought up in an Asia-based report, which cited much higher numbers than iSuppli is seeing now.

The Surface RT tablet has a relatively restricted sales channel via physical stores. It is sold only through 31 Microsoft stores and 34 smaller holiday specialty stores.

It is also available through Microsoft's online store in eight markets including Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, and the U.S.

Microsoft has not disclosed sales figures for the Surface RT tablet. A company representative declined comment.

Now playing: Watch this: Unboxing the Microsoft Surface tablet