Microsoft’s Smartphone Ambitions are Not Dead, Merely in Transitional Hibernation

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Microsoft smartphone ambitions

Microsoft has seen significant initial traction with its gadget push, and its recent taste of success with the Surface line-up is a morale-boosting win. After all, nobody expected them to be in the gadget business – not after their seven-billion-dollar Nokia write off, and certainly not after their smartphone market share went into decimal points.

But they persisted, and Surface products have slowly been picking up their share of accolades along the way. But a recent comment from HoloLens inventor and Microsoft veteran Alex Kipman to Bloomberg may have stunned Microsoft aficionados, most of whom are still expecting a smartphone from the Windows maker.

“We’re not going to come out with another device that someone’s done, says hardware marketing chief Yusuf Mehdi. Anyway, smartphones are yesterday’s news, says HoloLens inventor and in-house futurist Alex Kipman. “The phone is already dead,” he says. “People just haven’t realized.” Kipman is convinced some kind of mixed-reality device like the HoloLens will replace the phone—a theory echoed over at Apple,” Bloomberg reported.

In a way, both their statements dovetail with what Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has been saying all along, that they don’t want to do something that is already out there. Incremental improvements can only carry you so far, and when you are fighting an entrenched enemy, the odds of succeeding with an incrementally innovative product are very slim.

In an interview with Australia’s Financial Review, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said:

We don’t want to be driven by just envy of what others have, the question is, what can we bring? That’s where I look at any device form factor or any technology, even AI.
We will continue to be in the phone market not as defined by today’s market leaders, but by what it is that we can uniquely do in what is the most ultimate mobile device.

So there you go. At the very least, Microsoft’s team is speaking in one voice. They don’t want to launch a smartphone that pretty much does the same thing our current smartphones do. If they cannot find some thing that’s better, they might as well not go with it.

There is still Windows Phone in the market, and a fair user base of Windows 10 Mobile devices. Though Microsoft needs to be doing a lot more on that front, as my colleague Shudeep Chandrasekhar observed in an earlier piece, the real target is to find some thing that can set them apart.

Why Microsoft Must Respect Windows 10 Mobile and Windows Phone Users More

Whether they succeed or not is altogether a different matter, but at least they’re not throwing in the towel on their mobile ambitions.

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