Microsoft’s Surface Phone Could Be The Ultimate Mobile Device – Forbes

2017 will see Microsoft release what CEO Satya Nadella describes as “the ultimate mobile device.” Speaking to the Australian Financial Review, he talks about how Microsoft missed getting on the first mobile train, but is determined to deliver something unique, and will continue to be in the phone market.

“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. Therefore we stopped doing things that were me-too and started doing things, even if they are today very sub-scale, to be very focused on a specific set of customers who need a specific set of capabilities that are differentiated and that we can do a good job of.”

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella (picture: Microsoft.com)

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella (picture: Microsoft.com)

Given Microsoft’s current cuckoo-like approach of ensuring that users have access to Microsoft’s software and cloud services no matter what device they are using, trying to discern what Nadella is referring to when he says that the company was working on ‘the ultimate mobile device’ is not as simple as jumping to the obvious conclusion.

For many people the ultimate mobile device is the one they currently have in their pocket – Microsoft’s current focus on the cloud could mean making that mobile device ‘ultimate’ by getting that user signed up and using Microsoft apps such as Outlook or OneNote.

It could mean working with manufacturers to ensure that Microsoft’s software is already on the handset when the consumer opens the box. That’s certainly the case with devices from manufacturers such as Asus and Samsung who have deals to install apps like Microsoft Office at the factory on some Android-powered devices.

These are all good strategies, and are being put into good effect by the teams in Redmond. But the obvious conclusion here is that Microsoft will be debuting a smartphone in the near future that demands an ‘ultimate’ moniker.

Everyone not living under a digital rock knows what that device would be. The Surface Phone.

Microsoft Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL (image: Ewan Spence)

Microsoft last Windows 10 smartphones, the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL (image: Ewan Spence)

Microsoft has had a rocky road with the Surface brand, but it now has three ‘best in class’ devices that exhibit some of the highest specifications, the classiest design touches, and a surfeit of critical acclaim. The Surface Pro 4 mixes the best features of a tablet with an ultraportable PC. The Surface Book is a highly-specced business focused laptop with a detachable tablet-like screen. And the recently launched Surface Studio pushes the desktop computer to the ultimate conclusion (at least for those who work with graphics).

Naturally all of them run Windows 10.

Now take all those design touches and put them in a smartphone chassis. Outfit it with one or two different screen sizes to offer a smaller device or larger phablet. Pack it full of processor power, memory, and storage. Use Windows 10 and its competent management of a mobile environment for the end-user. Don’t worry about meeting a low price to reach a significant number of consumers, just worry about making it the best smartphone possible and if that means it won’t sell tens of millions of units so be it. The exercise is not to make a million seller, the exercise is to create the ultimate device to show off Microsoft’s potential for the next five to ten years.

That really would be an ultimate mobile device. And I expect Microsoft to deliver on its vision in the first half of 2017.

Now read my review of the Surface Book…

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