The Surface Phone Vicious Cycle


Microsoft's smartphone market share all but disappeared last quarter, certainly Strategy Analytics stopped reporting Windows phone sales and lumped Microsoft's platform into the other category. An unsubtle nod to the utter destruction of the Windows Mobile platform in the last twelve months.

Windows fans are pinning their hopes on the mythical Surface Phone, the device that will bring the platform back from the dead. 

Sorry to disappoint folks, but it's really not very likely.

Windows 10 Mobile will be all but dead by the time Q4's sales numbers are published in January. Even the bargain basement clearance of existing devices and sales numbers for recently launched devices from HP and Alcatel aren't going to add up to much. 

By the time March rolls around I suspect we will see a complete halt to all third-party Windows Mobile development. That's a serious blow for Microsoft, because without Windows Mobile there's little incentive to develop UWP apps and if you're not developing UWP apps you might as well abandon the Store and deliver Win32 apps with full control on pricing, content and updates.

No apps means no market. At what juncture do you accept that investment in any new Windows Mobile makes no sense at all?

To even have a hope of tempting buyers the Surface Phone would need to be so remarkable, so innovative and so appealling that its development costs would be off the chart. With no guarantee of sales would anyone sign off on that investment?

Not to mention the difficulty of coming up with something innovative in the phone space right now.

No, if the Surface Phone was coming, then it was coming last week, when there was still a chance to stem the collapse of the platform. It didn't happen and now it probably never will.

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