Preston Gralla

Microsoft Surface was a blowout Black Friday winner. Is it for real?

December 06, 2013 10:51 AM EST

Microsoft's Windows RT-based Surface tablet was the best-selling item at Best Buy on Black Friday, beating Apple's iPad, among others. Was this a one-shot event, or is it evidence that the Surface's new cousin Surface 2 is on its way to being a solid seller?

The retail analytics company InfoScout reports that the $199 Surface was the top seller at Best Buy on Black Friday followed by Apple's iPad 2, the Kindle Fire, the Samsung Galaxy tablet, and the Xbox 360.

The Surface didn't fare so well at Walmart or Target, where it wasn't in the top 5 sellers. At Walmart Apple's iPad Mini was the top seller, and at Target, the iPad Air topped the list.

Still, that the Surface topped the list at Best Buy is great news for Microsoft. After all, last year Microsoft had to write off $900 million due to unsold Surface tablets. Some people say that was a contributing factor in Steve Ballmer retiring from Microsoft.

So is the blowout at Best Buy a one-off occurrence, or does it show that the Surface has a life and may become a longer-term seller?

It appears that the Surface 2 may well have a future, at least if you take a look at Google Trends search data. That's what TechCrunch did, and the findings were as surprising as the Surface sales at Best Buy on Black Friday. Searches for Surface 2, TechCrunch found, top those for searches for Surface RT, Surface Pro, and Surface Pro 2. (Here's a link to the chart.) That's important, because it indicates consumer interest in a device. So at this point, the Surface 2 appears to be the most popular Microsoft tablet, at least as far as search interest goes. And the searches for Surface 2 far outstrip past searches for Surface RT and Surface Pro.

Is this a guarantee that the Surface line will be a winner? Certainly not. But put together search interest and actual buying during Black Friday, and it appears that there's life for the tablet.