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!