One of the reasons for Microsoft’s extraction from the phone hardware business was that it didn’t need to be competing with OEM partners who were trying to sell phones into the same markets. The plan apparently being to end Lumia’s greater than 90% domination of the Windows Phone market and allow others to flourish in its absence.
Others like BLU for example, who sold a range of consumer facing Windows Phone handsets.
Sold being the operative word. The company refreshed its website this week and of its Microsoft powered phones there is no mention. Safe to say that’s because the company has abandoned the market in favour of Android.
How can this be? Surely Satya Nadella’s plan to open the market for partners was fool proof?
Not really. The impact of Microsoft’s equivocation on the future of its Windows Mobile handsets has been read by the market as a damning prophecy of the lack of future for the platform. Customers have disappeared – sales were down 75% year on year when the last quarters results were reported – and as a result the very OEMs that Microsoft were relying on have begun a retrenchment on their Windows Mobile commitments.
A strong Lumia platform meant a strong Windows Mobile platform. The opposite is also clearly true.
Now, whether this means that the fabled Surface Phone is left an open goal to sales success remains to be seen. Like the HP Elite X3 it’s likely to be an enterprise focused device and very expensive too.
Microsoft may have sunk billions into making Windows competitive on phones, but that strategy was finally being rewarded with growing sales numbers when Nadella dropped his bombshell. Even now the arrival of more and more UWP apps is benefiting a platform that seems to heading down an evolutionary dead end.
Does Microsoft really have a plan to restart its mobile strategy again? Or will the Surface Phone idea quietly die like the Courier and other initiatives that missed the boat?