Microsoft is slashing the price of its Surface RT tablet by $150 as it fights to increase its tiny share of the booming tablet market.
The cut brings the price of the Surface RT with 32 gigabytes of memory from $499 to $349 without a cover, which also acts as a keyboard. Including a cover with a touch-sensitive keyboard, the device comes to $449. The Surface has a 10.1-inch screen measured diagonally.
According to market research firm IDC, Microsoft shipped about 900,000 tablets in the first quarter of 2013. That includes both the slimmed-down RT version and the Pro version of Surface, which is compatible with older Windows programs.
That gave Microsoft a slim 1.8 percent share of the 49.2 million tablets shipped worldwide. Apple remained the leader with 39.6 percent and was followed by Samsung, AsusTek and Amazon.com. Microsoft was No. 5. For the first time in IDC's quarterly report, Microsoft crept into the top five manufacturers, displacing Barnes & Noble, which makes the Nook. Second-quarter figures are not yet out.
The cut, implemented Sunday, comes just days after Microsoft reorganized its corporate structure to become more of a "devices and services" company.
Microsoft has manufactured devices before, such as its Xbox gaming console, but when it began selling Surface tablets in October, the company became a competitor to its many manufacturing partners, who rely on its Windows operating system to power their machines.
Microsoft is trying hard to succeed in tablets because personal computer sales are falling. Research firm Gartner said worldwide shipments of personal computers fell 11 percent to 76 million in the April-June period, the fifth consecutive quarter of decline and the longest PC slump ever.