Microsoft ‘Confirms’ Plans For New Surface Phone – Forbes
Once more Microsoft is teasing new Surface Phone hardware. Previously CEO Satya Nadella declared that 2017 would see Microsoft launch the ultimate mobile device: “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.”
This week saw Nadella talk to Molly Wood about a range of topics (including Visas, the push into the education market, and data privacy). He also address mobile devices with another bold statement: “…when you say we’ll make more phones, I’m sure we’ll make more phones, but they will not look like phones that are there today.”
That’s an interesting quote, and combined they make it clear that Microsoft has plans for a hardware launch this year in the mobile space.
Changing the way that the market looks at a device is a key feature of the modern Surface line-up. From the easel-like Surface Studio and the exquisite Surface Book, to the Surface Pro and new Surface Laptop machines, Microsoft has taken a basic design pattern and reimagined what can be achieved with a new approach.
The Surface Laptop may be the closest to a traditional design, but it challenges the MacBook and MacBook Air machines directly on price and desirability, What else lies inside the casing will be discovered by reviewers in the very near future. Now take that approach of starting with traditional cues and then pushing the designers out of their comfort zone and work on something new. I suspect that will be the basis of the Surface Phone.
Microsoft already has a ‘not a smartphone’ mobile product that is causing waves. Unlike other augmented reality solution, the Microsoft Hololens is a standalone computer designed to be work and operated hands free. it cam make calls, access the internet, and run third-party applications with ease. It’s not easy but if you are careful you could see a Hololens that is a ‘phone’ that is ‘not a phone’.
That’s just one option, I’m sure there are numerous concepts inside the research labs trialling AR ideas, flexible displays, curious hinges, and more esoteric touches. With very little market share and low expectations of success, Microsoft has the opportunity (and arguably the permission of the market) to explore some new hardware.
It’s an interesting angle. I could see this working, but at the same time I’d happily argue that Microsoft would launch a reference design that puts more focus on software and cloud interfaces than hardware design. The truth is likely to be somewhere between those two extremes.
As to the launch date, the Redmond-based company may have announced an event on May 23rd but I don’t think that a Windows 10-powered smartphone is going to show up before the end of the year. If you are looking for an appropriate time for Microsoft to release a smartphone that shows off the Windows 10 platform on a mobile handset to best effect, that would be the launch of the Redstone 3 – the Windows 10 update due to be launched late Q3/early Q4 in 2017. This will offer many new features that are focused on the mobile experience. With new software comes the opportunity to sell new hardware. Can Nadella have his surprise ready for September? His recent comments suggest that new hardware for 2017 is still on course.
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