Microsoft slashes price on Surface tablet

SAN FRANCISCO - Microsoft has quietly cut the price of its entry-level Surface tablet computer by some 30 per cent, after surveys indicating sluggish sales.

The Surface RT tablet was being sold for as low as US$349 (S$440) for US customers on the Microsoft website on Monday, down from the introductory price last year of US$499.

The move comes amid a price war for tablets and a flood of new devices on the market.

Amazon has slashed prices of its Kindle HD tablets to as low as US$169 in the US and 139 pounds (S$265) in Britain, while Barnes & Noble has cut the price of its Nook to as low as US$129, and has announced plans to outsource production of its tablets.

Microsoft introduced its Surface last year at a premium price, promoting the device as a substitute for a personal computer with an attachable keyboard.

But a survey by the research firm IDC estimated the company sold just 900,000 units in the first quarter, in a global market of some 49 million.

Microsoft previously cut the price of the Surface as low as US$199 for education buyers.