With its commitment to further first party Windows 10 Mobiles yesterday, Microsoft set out its store for the future: first-party devices to provide differentiation. Its a similar vision to the one that brought us the original Surface and the Surface line’s eventual success.
Microsoft will build new phone hardware to fill gaps left by third-party manufacturers.
So how do the very business-focused rumours of the new Surface Phone fit with that goal? Not very well it turns out. HP’s Elite x3 currently offers everything an enterprise with Windows Mobile leanings could want from a high end phone. Acer’s Jade Primo offers a reasonable mid-range enterprise offering (although I’m far from convinced that any enterprise organisation would deploy devices from a consumer brand).
From an enterprise offering what’s missing then is a Lumia 650 level device which supports Continuum and some form of biometric security. Doesn’t feel like this would be the right place to launch a new Surface Phone sub-brand though.
In the consumer space the imminent termination of the Lumia 950 will leave no high end device to lead the Windows Mobile platform. Hoping that third parties will fill this gap is wishful thinking. Premium Windows Mobile volumes are too low for that to happen. Third-parties will play in the entry-level space whilst there are still customers there.
So the logical place for a new Surface Phone is actually as a flagship consumer device. Given that the Lumia 950 is still very competitive in terms of performance and specs; and has a class leading camera too, it shouldn’t be too hard to create a new device that addresses the (mostly groundless) complaints about premium quality build.
Whether Microsoft has the vision and desire to do so; or has the stomach to make yet another (expensive) pitch for smartphone sales; remains to be seen.