Microsoft has had something of a revival in recent months. The products it has designed and released during 2016/17 have all looked stunning – much better than anything Apple has made.
And this is odd because just a couple of years ago, under Mr Ballmer, it looked as if Microsoft was about to go down the toilet. Microsoft’s earnings are improving too; its Cloud and Office businesses are up year-on-year and while Surface sales are down 26%, the company’s computers are better than ever.
But what about phones? Is Microsoft going to make phones again? In a word: Yes – but these phones won’t look like normal phones, according to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
So what are these new Microsoft phones going to be like?
“What we've done with Surface is a good example. No-one before us had thought of 2-in-1s, and we created that category, and made it a successful category, to the point where there are more 2-in-1s coming, and that's what we want to do. So in a sense, when you say ‘will we make more phones?’, I'm sure we will make more phones, but they will not look like phones that are there today,” said Nadella in an interview with Molly Wood.
All very cryptic. But what we must remember is this: Microsoft has a lot of patents under its belt. Patents for foldable phones like the one’s in Westworld. Patents for flexible handsets that run full fat versions of Windows. And it also has a few hardware partners like HP working for it.
Personally, I believe Microsoft will do something BIG in this area. I believe it is biding its time, watching the competition, and is calculating a move back into the space with something radical – a phone that doesn’t look like a phone, basically.
“For some time now,” notes Neowin, “Microsoft has been rumored to be working on a new class of mobile device with powerful hardware and the dual phone-and-PC functionality of its Continuum vision in Windows 10 Mobile. Commonly referred to as the 'Surface phone', rumors of that device have become closely linked with Microsoft's promise to bring the full version of Windows 10 to next-generation 'cellular PCs' with ARM processors, including support for Win32 desktop applications through emulation.”
Nothing is concrete as yet, of course. But the fact that Nadella has officially commented on this means that Microsoft likely has a handset in the advanced stages of testing. Why else would he officially discuss something of this magnitude?
After seeing the HoloLens, Xbox One S and Surface Studio in action I am 100% convinced that Microsoft can do something very compelling in the phone space. I just hope it ends up being worth the wait.