Rumoured Surface Phones Will Be Too Late For Windows Mobile
Following the unbelievably low-key Build conference (well, as far as Windows 10 Mobile was concerned) and subsequent comments by Microsoft staffers; the 'leak' of forthcoming Surface phones looks like a poorly conceived panacea for the woes of its customers and retailers.
It's not working.
The premise of the Surface Phone, that by utilising an x86 CPU the phone will get access to the full catalogue of Windows Store apps, rather than just those which have been released as Universal apps, is weak. There's no guarantee these apps will work at phone screen sizes and those that don't are only going to hurt the customer experience.
The alternative - that these apps will run in Continuum mode only - sounds better, but as yet I've seen little from Continuum that makes it anything more than a niche product. Sure there will be use cases - but all but the most pernickety of light travellers will surely choose to carry a laptop instead.
By 2017 - when this particular promise of jam tomorrow is scheduled to materialise - the Smartphone 2.0 market, heralded by the launch of the iPhone, will be ten years old.
In that time Microsoft will have managed to turn over its customer base four times: with the Windows Mobile 6.5 upgrade, that reached hardly any Windows Mobile users. Then WM6.5 users were denied Windows Phone 7 and Windows Phone 7 users denied Windows Phone 8. Shouldn't be surprising that more than half of Windows Phone 8 customers will never see Windows 10 Mobile on their devices.
Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me; but a fourth time?
Even those happy WP8.1 users looking to upgrade are faced with a bleak choice. The underpowered and unlovely Lumia 550, the corporate focused 650 or the too expensive for what it is 950. And if they do choose to upgrade they'll find they end up on a device which is running a beta OS with far too many retrograde steps compared to Windows Phone 8.1, no matter how good the steps forward are.
At the point when Microsoft is trying to make a splash with the Surface Phone, Apple will be offering the iPhone 7S to customers likely to be lapping up their fifth iPhone, whilst Samsung, Huawei and other Android manufacturers will be fighting to deliver the next major technology breakthrough to tempt Android owners to jump ship to their brand.
Those Android and iPhone buyers are lost to Microsoft. The remaining Windows Phone users are drifting away and none of them are coming back.
Surface Phone in 2017? I really don't think so.
Microsoft, by its own admission, is not about selling Windows anymore. And if its not about selling Windows it certainly isn't about selling Windows on phones.