If the top man at Microsoft speaks about the company's mobile hardware as a sure thing, then it is safe to assume Microsoft will continue to build smartphones. In a podcast interview, CEO Satya Nadella has even suggested that the company will change the handset game. He says the next Windows phone may not look like a phone at all.
This is interesting, but not without a reminder of where Microsoft is in terms of Windows 10 Mobile hardware. The company decided to pull away from making its Lumia-branded smartphones last year. Instead, Microsoft said it would focus on boosting Windows 10 Mobile for OEMs.
That has not really happened and the platform is floundering. Microsoft has never said it was leaving mobile hardware permanently, and consistent rumors suggest smartphones will arrive this year. The most exciting is the Surface Phone.
A device so long-rumored that I and many are unsure it exists as a physical device. Instead, I think it is just the concept and name for what will eventually be Microsoft's standout flagship. We are at the point where Windows as a mobile platform can only be saved by a device that changes the game.
Microsoft has to develop a device that has features and capabilities that Android OEM's and Apple products lack. In an interview (spotted by Softpedia) for Marketplace's make me smart, Nadella says he believes the company will still make smartphones.
However, he suggests these devices may not even look like traditional handsets:
“We make phones today, we have OEMs like HP making phones and others and we picked a very specific area to focus on which is management, security, and this one particular feature that we have called Continuum, which is a phone that can even be a desktop,” explains Nadella.
Redefining the Smartphone
Nadella has long championed Continuum as the stand-out feature on Windows 10 Mobile. No other platform has the ability to turn the handset into a fully functional Windows PC. Continuum alone is unlikely to be enough to draw attention from iOS and Android. Indeed, the feature was on the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL and made no difference to those devices' demise.
Microsoft will undoubtedly expand on what Continuum is and what it can do. Beyond that, the company will need something else if it is to claw back market share. We have seen Surface Phone rumors that points to folding devices and concepts that push Microsoft's plan to target business users.
“So when you say ‘when will we make more phones' I'm sure we'll make more phones,” adds Nadella. “But they may not look like phones that are there today.”