Microsoft Technical Fellow Alex Kipman recently said, “The phone is already dead – people just haven’t realized.” He made this statement while discussing Microsoft’s HoloLens and potential future iterations of similar mixed-reality devices, which could be eventually be integrated into our daily lives much like the smartphone is today.
Kipman may be right. But that future is a long way off, and Microsoft has effectively vanished from the current smartphone market. A few of Microsoft’s partners continue to offer Windows Phones – like HP, for example – but Microsoft discontinued production of its own Lumia-branded smartphones and has not made any new product announcements in the space.
In a recent interview, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was asked if the company has any plans to make new smartphones, to which he answered in the affirmative. When talking on marketplace.org’s “Make Me Smart” podcast, Nadella said, “Will we make more phones? I’m sure we will make more phones, but they will not look like phones that are there today.”
So, we’ve got Kipman claiming the phone is dead, while Nadella suggests new Microsoft smartphones are coming. Well, which is it? I believe Microsoft has a new ultra-portable device in the works, which will have a pocketable form-factor like a smartphone, but will be fully compatible with the entire Windows 10 ecosystem, including desktop applications.
This device could be the rumored Surface Phone, but I don’t believe Microsoft will call it that. A Surface Mini or Surface P (for Pocket), or something along those lines, is more likely.
At this point, Microsoft’s chances of gaining any meaningful share from iOS or Android in the smartphone market is very slim. Instead, the company will attempt to invent a new category of devices that can replace a smartphone, but may not be marketed as smartphones.