Of….Microsoft and Branded Phones

Apologies upfront to the Nokia fanboys, but the Lumia is not the highpoint of Windows Phone hardware design.

And to be honest the HTC 8x and 8s look nice, but neither OEM is the subject of this post. Last week rumors surfaced (Pun pending) on a Microsoft branded phone that either was planned or being designed for a 2013 release. Now the story was verified by three separate tech blogs.

There is an argument to be made that Microsoft shouldn’t get into the phone business. Mostly this argument involves Nokia and its “sacrifice”. You could also make the argument that a branded handset would be both a sign of desperation and would lead to OEMs abandoning the platform. Lastly, there is the specter of the KIN devices; which have replaced the Zune as the one note joke of Microsoft. From all reports a branded Windows Phone device is Plan B; and I think the plan was in place way before the Nokia deal.

Despite the negative, I like the idea of a Windows Phone device built by Microsoft. And after the announcement of the Microsoft Surface I can see Microsoft wanting to do the same in the phone space.

At this point Microsoft is in a similar situation in phones as it is in tablets. Its OEM partners left Windows Mobile for Google’s Android system in droves. For a while they made money hand over fist as Android essentially became Windows’ mobile equivalent. But in time the only company making money from selling Android phones was Samsung. And after issues with Apple and Microsoft around patents, OEMs are looking back to Microsoft for a fallback.

So this fall Samsung and HTC will return with new handsets that look nice. But I can’t help but wonder if the experiences of the past haven’t lead to Microsoft to think differently about its partners. As they say a man can’t serve two masters and OEMs can’t easily do both Android and Windows without issues. And hardware is as much part of the equation as hardware.

Now I don’t think Microsoft will abandon its partner model but I do think Redmond feels that in some spaces it needs to create something to show how it needs to be done. The Surface was the first sign of this change, maybe a Surface phone is not far off.


(This post went completely somewhere else so there will be a part 2)


Image Jonas Deahnert


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