Microsoft has already said that mobile isn’t part of its key focus this year, and it turns out that this is happening because the company is going forward with its plan to reorganize the smartphone business in a way that’s very likely to lead to more criticism from the Windows Phone community in the short term.
It all comes down to the Surface Phone, one of the most exciting projects that Microsoft has been rumored to work on and that, according to Windows Central, lives on behind closed doors.
Because of the arrival of the Surface Phone, Microsoft is rethinking both the software and the hardware side of its mobile business, and the effects of this reorganization should appear in early 2017.
One of the most intriguing rumors mentioned in the aforementioned article is the phasing out of the Lumia series, despite the recent introduction of new models such as Lumia 950, 950 XL, and 650.
Microsoft has become rather reticent when it comes to promoting these models around the world, and it appears that there’s a good reason for that. The company might actually give up on its Lumia phone series and instead concentrate on the upcoming Surface Phone.
There’s a more complex plan here, and although it could lead to more criticism, it actually makes sense for the company.
First of all, this isn’t the first time we’re hearing about the end of the Lumia lineup. The Lumia 650 was often referred to as “the last Lumia,” with sources close to the matter suggesting that this could be the last device launched as part of this series by Microsoft.
Second of all, with the focus less on phones this year, it just makes sense for Microsoft not to introduce new devices this year. Rumor has it that refreshes for the Surface Book and the Surface Pro 4 are expected in spring 2017, so the chances are that no new handset could see daylight until that point.
While Microsoft isn’t planning to release new phones, it hopes that the rest of OEM partners would do so. Microsoft is trying a strategy similar to the one employed for the Surface, letting partners build devices of all types, with the company itself focusing on just one very high-end model.
If this report proves to be accurate, then the Surface Phone could arrive in 2017 together with the Surface Book 2 and the Surface Pro 5. And what’s more interesting is that the device will come in not one, not two, but in three configurations.
The word is that Microsoft wants to build three different Surface Phone models for consumers, businesses, and enthusiasts, all with exclusive features that will differentiate one from another. These new features are not known at this point, but they will most likely come with different hardware and different price points.
Just like the Surface tablet, the Surface Phone, very likely to be developed by a team headed by Panos Panay, will be a premium device and will be quite expensive, with pricing to go easily over $1,000.
Some of the improvements that Microsoft’s making in Windows 10 right now appear to be specifically directed at a potential Surface Phone coming next year.
The new Ink support that Microsoft is adding in Windows 10 with the upcoming Anniversary Support could be a feature aimed at the Surface Phone, and so are improvements made to Continuum.
Furthermore, Microsoft expects Windows 10 Mobile to reach maturity next year, so it’s very clear that the company doesn’t want to launch the Surface Phone too early. Company execs have already explained that “cool things” are coming for Windows phone fans next year, so the Surface Phone mixed with a “more complete” operating system could be the solution.
For the moment, the Surface Phone is still being worked on behind closed doors, but there’s no doubt that Microsoft’s changing its mobile strategy. In the short term, however, the secrecy that Microsoft’s very likely to adopt until the Surface Phone sees daylight could do more harm than good.