Microsoft Corporation is not working on a Surface Phone – at least not in the way you might imagine a smartphone. We have heard and read hundreds of reports on hints, leaks, and rumors about the Surface Phone. We have written our fair share of such reports here, here, and here. However, it appears that Microsoft is playing a long game with its “Mobile First” strategy. Many people think that the Surface Phone has been a giant fake-out, but I think the Surface Phone is being developed and Redmond will unleash it when the timing is right.
If the Surface Phone were a smartphone, it would be here already
Come to think of it, do you think it is that hard for Microsoft to build a smartphone? The same firm that wowed us with the Surface Pro, which cannibalizing Apple’s iPad sales can definitely build a smartphone. Redmond gave us the Surface Book to knock of Apple’s MacBook from its high pedestal. The Surface Studio and Surface Dial are Sui Generis and neither Apple Inc. , nor Samsung is even close to unveiling a worthy rival. Seriously, building a smartphone is not beyond Microsoft’s ability –inasmuch as we are talking about the R&D needed to create an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy rival.
Of course, we can argue that Microsoft would find it hard to make headways into the smartphone market even if it builds a better smartphone than the iPhone or other comparable flagship Android devices.
Honestly, Microsoft will be setting itself up for failure if it decides to go head-to-head against the iPhone or Android smartphones in the smartphone market. Microsoft holds a measly 0.3% market share in the smartphone market and it just can’t build the critical mass needed to become a formidable player in the smartphone market. Redmond tried it once with its ill-fated Lumia romance and we all know how that ended.
Here’s what you can expect on Microsoft’s Surface Phone
Microsoft’s Surface Phone will definitely have the form factor of a smartphone or a phablet – but that’s probably the only thing it would have in common with the current crop of smartphone in the market. The Surface Phone will be more of a PC that you can hold in your hand or put in your pocket. Granted, Microsoft will have a hard time branding or marketing a tiny PC or micro PC but we will cross the branding and marketing bridge when we get there.
We know that Microsoft is already trying to solve the chicken-egg problem plaguing its app ecosystem with its Universal Windows Platform apps. Universal Windows apps will simply allow Microsoft to ‘port’ an incredible number of x86 apps with full support of a smartphone form factor. Microsoft is also fixing its reputation in the app developer community with a number of collaborative and open source projects.
You can also expect the Surface Phone to have a stronger connection to the cloud beyond anything currently available with Apple’s iCloud or comparable Android cloud services. Microsoft’s Azure cloud business is now a worthy rival to Amazon’s AWS cloud business. You can expect Redmond to use its Azure cloud business to promote a new device that functions in the cloud.
For instance, the cloud will also power a great deal of contextual use of Cortana on the Surface Phone. Office 365 is already in the clouds and you can reasonably expect the Surface phone to be a productivity workhorse with Office 365. Continuum mode will also use cloud computing to help you start work on your Surface Phone and move on to a Surface Pro, or PC to complete the work later.