Microsoft confirmed this week that Windows 10 Mobile and new smartphones are not a focus. It was a welcome admission, but still a controversial one considering how poorly Windows phone has been treated. Speaking in an interview, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella explained the company's mobile future.
Specifically, he discussed where the company is focused in the mobile space and claims Microsoft can compete without having a mobile platform or hardware.
It is easy to dismiss that as a misguided view, after-all, mobile hardware sells in big numbers. Certainly, more smartphones sell than PCs, a sector where Microsoft still leads the way. However, Nadella says there are lessons to learn from the company's past.
The CEO says Apple and Google's dominance in the mobile space means Microsoft could probably never compete platform against platform. Microsoft rode the PC wave to become the leading tech company in the world. It was a dominance that would not last as mobile device took over.
Satya Nadella says relying on the permanence of a particular technology. He is obviously speaking about Microsoft's own mistakes and over-reliance on the PC market. The CEO now believes that Microsoft can position itself for the next wave of technology.
That next wave, at least according to Microsoft, seems to be mixed reality. Nadella has previously said the company's next mobile device would not look like a smartphone. HoloLens chief Alex Kipman doubled down on the plan by saying mixed reality is the next frontier of the mobile space.
Of course, that does not explain what Microsoft plans to do in the meantime. We can argue the accuracy of the prediction that smartphones will one day be obsolete, but currently they are dominant and going nowhere.
Nadella says while the company pursues the next technological wave, it will continue to support customers. While he says the following about hardware:
“We absolutely do not have the share to have our smartphone hardware, that's a real consumer choice. That's the reality of it. (…)The reality is that we cannot compete as a third ecosystem with no share position and attract developers.”
So, in other words, no new hardware. That kind of kills the idea of the fabled Surface Phone.