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Is Microsoft testing its own Surface smartphone designs?

by Mark Tyson on 2 November 2012, 12:00

Tags: Surface, PC, Nokia (NYSE:NOK)

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There has been speculation about a Microsoft Surface smartphone before, however the latest news from component makers in Asia provides many more hard(ware) facts. “People familiar with the situation” have spoken to the Wall Street Journal about a Microsoft smartphone, a Surface phone design, being put together. The sources in Taipei, as usual, didn’t want to be named but are officials at some of Microsoft’s parts suppliers.

The Surface tablet is meticulously constructed

The parts suppliers aren’t sure if this smartphone design is just for testing internally by Microsoft or that it is intended for mass production. There is very little indication about the design or what will make up the new smartphone but one of the WSJ’s sources said that the screen would be between 4 and 5 inches in size. That’s not giving a lot away; it would have been nicer to know which side of that range the screen falls in, it means a world of difference in handling. A 4-inch device is eminently pocketable and useable with one hand but a 5-inch screened smartphone might even be a phablet design with a stylus.

Nice artists impression of a Surface Phone by Jonas Daehnert

On Monday the WSJ asked Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer a direct question about whether the company would make its own smartphone. Mr Ballmer answered “We're quite happy this holiday [season] going to market hard with Nokia, Samsung and HTC. Whether we had a plan to do something different or we didn't have a plan I wouldn't comment in any dimension.”

If Microsoft is to make its own smartphone it will definitely be seen as following Apple’s strategy and business model of closely integrated operating system and hardware production. Microsoft may well be behind right now in the growing tablet and smartphone markets though it leads in personal computer sales and came from behind to great effect previously in the games console market.

Many thought that Microsoft’s Surface tablet was a reaction by the company to uninspired same-old boring design efforts from hardware partners in the desktop, laptop and tablet arenas. Does Microsoft have the same feelings about its smartphone hardware partners? Do they need to be shown how to make a phone that truly makes the most out of the Windows Phone 8 mobile OS? If the Microsoft smartphone is as innovative and surprising as the Microsoft Surface launch in June then I am definitely looking forward to it. Will it have a VaporMg casing? Will it have a stylus? Will it have a type cover? More leaks please!



HEXUS Forums :: 6 Comments

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Um... so why was Nokia teaming up with MS again? First HTC was the flagship launch phone and now MS is possibly going for their own. If this is true, what exactly does Nokia get out of this that it wouldn't have it it had gone Android as well? I'd like to see MS make a iPod-touch iteration of the Zune hardware with WiFi (and Skype?).
I think Nokia got boned, but it won't be common knowledge for a while. Microsoft isn't putting all it's eggs in one basket, they're trying to be somewhere between Apple and Google it terms of their business model it seems.
Tpyo
Um... so why was Nokia teaming up with MS again? First HTC was the flagship launch phone and now MS is possibly going for their own. If this is true, what exactly does Nokia get out of this that it wouldn't have it it had gone Android as well? I'd like to see MS make a iPod-touch iteration of the Zune hardware with WiFi (and Skype?).
Why is HTC who went heavily towards Android retreating more towards WP.

Nokia are making money via their maps on every phone sold, they are also taking forever to get their act together. When you look at the physical assembly simalarities between the 800, 900 and 920, and take in to account that was from their N9, you have to say, what have they been up to!
Microsoft doing their own phone? Dumb idea imho, they'd be better off spending the money on propping up Nokia as lead WP8 developer (and they have some nice looking designs to boot). On the other hand if the "Surface Phone" is an attempt to do a Nexus style device (really designed for developers and early adopters) then that make a heck of a lot more sense.
Tpyo
I'd like to see MS make a iPod-touch iteration of the Zune hardware with WiFi (and Skype?).
Great idea - yes, there's some other vendors out there already (Sony, Samsung, Archos and Cowon come to mind). But doing a real iPod Touch competitor - so a phone but without the 3G radios - could be a big seller on the back of Microsoft's name and presumably the no-brainer/no-effort sync of your library with your Windows8 desktop.
crossy
Great idea - yes, there's some other vendors out there already (Sony, Samsung, Archos and Cowon come to mind). But doing a real iPod Touch competitor - so a phone but without the 3G radios - could be a big seller on the back of Microsoft's name and presumably the no-brainer/no-effort sync of your library with your Windows8 desktop.

Also - MS being the owners of Skype and not having a phone/carrier business of their own, the way I see it, it doesn't scupper/interfere with any of their other products. A free WiFi/Skype system (granted you may need to sign up with soem kind of WiFi hotspot company of your chocie) may also help to encourage a lowering of the (frankly quite ridiculous) data contract prices we've been seeing of late.