Surface Phone. It’s probably the most talked about phone that doesn’t exist (yet). Sure the iPhone gets its headlines every year whilst we try to uncover its secrets early and even Samsung’s high-end Galaxy’s have a buzz. But for column inches per shipped device the Surface Phone has them all beaten.
So far the rumour mill has given us a Intel Atom powered Surface Phone able to run x86 applications, until Intel canned the Atom mobile processor family. Then a high-end Snapdragon phone, advancing the capabilities of Windows Mobile beyond even the HP Elite x3. In fact the only option we haven’t seen is an Surface Phone that is actually a mobile Xbox gaming platform.
I don’t believe the Surface announcement in October will include any of these devices.
Competing with HP for those restricted premium enterprise sales would be ridiculous, not to mention the damage it would do to Microsoft’s relationship with HP. An alternative x86 processor from AMD, for example, would require significant compromises in terms of form factor, heat disappation and battery life. An Xbox gaming phone? In theory its already achievable with existing Lumia hardware, if Microsoft decided to enable it.
No, if a Surface Phone is to arrive in the next few months it can only be as a replacement of the Lumia branding for Microsoft’s phones. That would suggest that the Lumia name is the problem – and it quite clearly isn’t.
With Microsoft’s production of the Lumia line ending or already ended, it leaves a void which it has consistently said would be filled by partners. Yet Lumias account for greater than 90% of Windows Mobile sales. Doesn’t sound to me like the brand is the problem.
With expectations, both within and without the Windows Mobile fanbase, being that the Surface Phone will be something out of this world, here to save the platform, Microsoft may well be better off announcing nothing at all.
Because another weak or badly received phone, this time wearing the Surface brand, will damage more than Microsoft’s last lingering hopes for smartphones. There really is no Plan B this time.
If Microsoft has a Surface Phone it has to be iPhone-squashing, Galaxy-stomping, knocked-it-out-of-the-park brilliant. Nothing less will do.