Microsoft must launch a Surface phone — and get it right the first time
Smartphones are the gateways to many tech companies' broader ecosystems. Sadly, history proves any attempt by Microsoft to fill that void in its ecosystem is a huge gamble.
Still, the absence of the most personal of computing devices from Microsoft's lineup is detrimental to its present and future relevance. Microsoft must launch a Surface phone.
The personal computing landscape is permeated with technologies that became relevant to consumers by way of smartphones. Digital assistants, the cloud, smart home speakers, in-car computing, IoT and mobile gaming are an increasingly cohesive personal computing tapestry spawned by and centralized around smartphones.
Microsoft's retreat from the smartphone space removed the company's rapport to the personal computing landscape and potentially eliminated its future relevance. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella promised an "ultimate mobile device" that will be "beyond the curve" and won't be like "the other guys'" phones, however.
Microsoft's ultimate mobile device
I believe Microsoft's ultimate mobile device will fill the gap left by its absent smartphones, and will potentially create a new device category. The iPhone's and Android phone's mobile dominance and Microsoft's need for "some type of mobile device," makes both these objectives necessary.
Microsoft needs a personal portal to its ecosystem and a compelling device that challenges the "rectangular-slab-smartphone" status quo.
A device with game-changing, context-conforming hardware which benefits from a synergy of technologies from inking, mixed reality, gaming and more may be the answer.
These are lofty goals. This device will require massive engineering resources, profound levels of inter-department collaboration to bring different technologies together and immense marketing and distribution follow-through. This massive investment is also a huge gamble. The risk is accentuated by Microsoft's 100 percent failure rate in mobile.
Not to act, however, is a guarantee that Microsoft, without that personal portal to its ecosystem and nexus point for other technologies, will be irrelevant in the future of personal computing. This can't be overemphasized: Microsoft must launch a Surface phone.
Failure should have taught Microsoft how to succeed
External forces, as well as internal shortcomings, led to Microsoft's mobile failures. Slow responses to the market, inconsistent marketing and distribution, support of iOS and Android at Windows' expense, not-ready-for-prime-time Windows 10 Mobile, and more plagued the platform.
Unless Microsoft is oblivious or simply doesn't care, experience should have taught it how not to fail. The coming ultimate mobile device, an ultramobile Surface PC with CShell and telephony, may succeed.
As a telephony-enabled, pocketable Windows 10 PC with Continuum, it will fill Microsoft's smartphone gap and challenge the "rectangular-slab-smartphone" status quo. Despite the best-laid plans, however, success isn't guaranteed. And Microsoft's fight to position an ultramobile Surface PC in the mobile space will be wrought with challenges.
Positioning any "Microsoft" mobile device directly against the iPhone and Android phones in the smartphone space would be suicidal. The market has grown cold to Microsoft's phone efforts. Fans are bitter, consumers apathetic, OEMs uncommitted, the enterprise is disinterested, and many bloggers are hostile. Another strictly "phone" attempt would be fodder for more negativity.
Microsoft cannot position a "Surface phone" as a phone. As a telephony-enabled ultramobile PC it must be positioned accordingly. It must be clear to fans, consumers, the enterprise and bloggers that this ultimate mobile device is something new.
It mustn't look like a smartphone, but it must be familiar enough to be recognized as a mobile device. It must provide new ways of interaction but also be intuitive.
It must be positioned in the mobile, not smartphone, space as an ultramobile PC both because that's what it will be as well as to escape the stigma of Microsoft's past phone failures. It must appeal to consumers who are dictating personal computing's direction and be suitable for the enterprise. If Microsoft fails at positioning the ultramobile Surface, it will lose before it even gets "re-started."
Surface phone needs "One Microsoft"
Microsoft's strategy is the coalescing of various technologies synergistically in an ultramobile Surface. This is important to making an ultramobile Surface unique.
Surface lead Panos Panay expressed how the Surface team's working with the OneNote team was important to making the pen and Surface work together seamlessly. A more extensive level of collaboration must take place to bring an even broader range of innovative technologies to the ultramobile Surface.
Microsoft's four engineering groups Cloud and Enterprise Engineering, Office Product, Windows and Devices, and Technology and Research were structured to allow engineering heads to report directly to Nadella. This makes for a more efficient product development and product-to-market system.
This structure should also provide a collaborative environment where teams can work together efficiently and intentionally to bring various technologies to the ultramobile Surface. Panay and his team will need the folks working on mixed reality, Office, inking, AI, gaming, CShell, Continuum, Project Centennial, Cloud and Windows to make Nadella's ultimate mobile device a reality.
Marketing and distribution
Beyond the divisions building the device, other teams must ensure its marketing and distribution.
Microsoft marketing and operations.
The Corporate Strategy and Planning, Global Sales Marketing and Operations, Marketing Group, and Worldwide Commercial Business divisions must position it for success.
These teams and leaders must be held accountable for ensuring Microsoft puts 100 percent of its weight behind building, positioning, marketing and distributing Nadella's ultimate mobile device. If this doesn't happen, Microsoft's mobile efforts may fail again.
Developers, Developer, Dev … Microsoft you're a developer!
As we move toward an AI, bot and progressive web app world, no current mobile ecosystem can thrive without a strong app ecosystem. If Microsoft can't attract developers, its ultimate mobile device will be doomed from the start. Developers need to be convinced Windows is a viable platform.
Microsoft can potentially woo developers and prove its commitment to mobile by launching an exclusive suite of unique, high-quality Universal Windows Platform (UWP) productivity, entertainment, gaming and utility apps. They can fall under a "Surface exclusive" branding reminiscent of "Lumia exclusives" of the past. Microsoft must also keep its promise that cross-platform first-party apps will be best on Windows.
As the world's leading software company with resources spanning Windows, Office, Microsoft Garage apps, AI, Xbox and more, Microsoft itself is its best asset for winning developers. If it puts a 100 percent effort into building exclusive UWP apps and games before Surface phone's launch, it may inspire third-party developers to follow.
If Microsoft continues business as usual, as usual it will fail.
Beating consumer apathy requires ultimate effort
Winning mobile users requires an enormous effort. If it happens, it won't be overnight. Many consumers have a negative view of Windows phone, and after being burned, many no longer trust Microsoft.
Microsoft made a strategic (but painful to users) gamble by "purging" the market of Windows phones in hopes of purging the failed platform from consumers' minds as it prepares for what's next.
Microsoft's ultimate mobile device will be its next attempt at mobile. If it supports mixed reality, Xbox and Windows gaming, becomes a desktop via Continuum, conforms to context via CShell, has a suite of exclusive apps, has first-party apps that are best on Windows and a growing pool of third-party apps, Microsoft may have a shot at winning consumers and the enterprise.
Microsoft's Surface phone must be the ultimate mobile device
Microsoft's ultimate mobile device must be just that: the ultimate mobile device. It must be that single computing device that does virtually everything for virtually anyone. Microsoft can spare no effort and must target broad markets. It must appeal to consumers, the enterprise and gamers.
Microsoft simply must deliver.
Pooling the efforts of multiple engineering, strategy and marketing teams around an ultramobile Surface is a tremendous gamble. If Microsoft fails, resources will be wasted, the press will be unmerciful and the industry-esteemed Surface brand will be marred.
If it succeeds, the rewards will be equally as profound and Microsoft may well change the game.
How Microsoft can ensure Surface phone success
Is Microsoft's rumored Surface phone a reimagined Surface Mini?
With Surface phone will Microsoft learn from past marketing mistakes?
Microsoft will release a Surface phone - but it can take a while
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Jason L Ward is a columnist at Windows Central. He provides unique big picture analysis of the complex world of Microsoft. Jason takes the small clues and gives you an insightful big picture perspective through storytelling that you won't find *anywhere* else. Seriously, this dude thinks outside the box. Follow him on Twitter at @JLTechWord. He's doing the "write" thing!
Anyway,🙂 the information Stefan understood the questions I asked and gave the response to the questions providing readers with accurate information about the full process for getting a Win32 app to the UWP. Stefan reiterated the Convert - Enhance - Migrate - Reach All, process I explained in this article long before the Q and A😉: "Windows 10 on ARM makes sense of Win32 apps on Nokia phone"
Will they do it right this time?
When it is folded out to full screen use, it would act as a small tablet that has pen use. A TRUE all in one. This type aspires to be a lot but, if it could be done and done right...man oh man! This is just something off the top of my head, but you heard it here first. Lol Even if such a device could be created and done well, will MS actually promote it enough to get people interested?
I can use my phone in any European, African, Eastern and Pacific country. I'm not bound to any carrier and I can use any carrier available.
Plus Android emulation means the end of the Windows Store because Android has so many different app stores available.
They already have missed the train... . .No consumer data gafhering mechanisms
+ No devolopers
+ No apps
= No adoptions The train has gone, MS missed it...
The ultimate device is likely to be expensive/unaffordable and only appeal to fans, like me rather than mass consumer market...
If this is a new category, it will take time to convince buyers to adopt it
Why should iOS and android users change, after so much bad press on MS failure in the mobile space and consumer market (Band 2!), despite having excellent products...
1. Don't have a universal platform that can run a full PC OS on ARM. 2. Don't have an OS with built in Holographic computing API's. 3. Don't have a OS with system wide inking. 4. Don't have a technological lead in AR and VR. 5. Don't have an OS with an intrinsic feature, Continuum, that turns a mobile device into a PC. 6. Don't have an Xbox and Windows gaming platforms. 7. Don't have CShell that enables an OS to conform to context. 8. Don't have 3D content creation via Paint 3D integrated in its platform. 9. Don't have a platform to run universal apps across different device types. So I disagree, most of this article could not have been written about any company competing in mobile.😎
Better fire Nadella.
Cortana searches for "Witch in the dog bones be gone tomorrow"
Let's see: WM6.5->WP7 FAIL
okay may be this time they will finally get it right after causing so much harm to their "loyal users"
People have stated that their would have been a performance hit but hey better a performance hit and have access to an abundance of apps rather than what we have now. Microsoft has made a habit of failing at mobile, Just my take on it.
Next next generation Cshell, beyond what we have now for Continuum - multi windows etc. Need to be on rapid R&D. Xamarin SkiaSharp support animated gif. This app does not support animated gif which edge support. If winCentral app does not learn ! What future do we have for surface phone. So sad. Good enough is not === excellence needed to stay competitive. Pls shows us a proper comment UWP pages that Win10M deserve.
No customer centric. No features to help users learn from each other. All ingredients to doom.
Lumia 1520, 950 XL, HP Elite X3, iPhone 6S Plus and Samsung S7 Edge. I switch between them regularly and make them my daily driver for a number of days. And although the 1520 is the oldest of them all, I always keep coming back to use this cellular, and at least for me, this is the best one for me. I've tried this time and again by having the W10 mobiles doing the same tasks simultaneously and the result is that the old 1520 is not slower than the other two. In fact sometimes even a tad faster than the other two. MS definitely needs their own device and of course it will be a state of the art device. Also they will try very hard to avoid all the mistakes of the past. They just can't afford to not be in the mobile market, especially since they they are targeting the enterprise market.
And what ever they may come up with, they better make sure they have all the many good features of the 1520 without the hiccups previously shown. Samsung and iPhone just fly through the tasks and are much quicker than the W10m, but both lack features that I really love on the others. The iPhone ui is just boring. Basically looking at the same for years. But usability and interaction awesome. Samsung at least can be tuned with Arrow Launcher by MS to give you the daily changing lock screen and background wallpaper.
The always on display is far from the possibilities that W10m offers.
The MS apps for android lack some basic features compared to their MS counterpart. For example, until now it isn't possible to change your contacts in the outlook app.
It pains me to carry my Lumia 950 around as a backup to the Google Pixel.
I've had my share of time on here proclaiming how few apps I need and how there are only about fifty essential apps, but as the platform died and even mobile banking became a chore I ended up with a pixel.
Spotify for W10 was good to see, would have been nicer if it was also Xbox One friendly.
Frankly though, unless WhatsApp, Snapchat, the banks, Instagram and every other app of relevance is present at launch, ideally cross-device, any such device dies.
Cortana is crap on Android, OneDrive is crap on Android, but sadly convenience and app support are crap on my increasingly bloated Lumia 950.
- Custom hardware down to the chips used. Just like xbox, surface mobile devices need a custom chip only available to microsoft.
- Applications - Office is used by everyone but in the mobile space there needs to be mobile specific features that just work better or are only available on Surface.
- Just like Xbox accept that you will have minimal positive or negative impact on the bottom line with the first release but it's capabilities and use are categories creating or changing and drive profitability. Stop killing products after 6 months. This a marathon not a sprint, let the idea mature and grow. There was a life cycle let it develop. You had the chance with the Lumia brand and 950 series to add ink and other functionality that would have held your position in the mobile space until the next-generation.
- Surface - Treat Surface like it's a standalone company. Position it so that based on its designs it is a driver for the OS business to innovate in the mobile space.
- Maybe the mobile OS is microsoft only. At some point you cant give your partners access to everything. You are trying to innovate in your own space.
- Marketing - its a Microsoft world and this is what it looks like. This is how i can help you function on the go, at work and most importantly at play. This includes hobbies, traveling, mobile gaming, access to information on the go and work outside of the office and in front of a fixed screen or display in a workspace. Show me this i eant to see it, believe it and experience it.
- Idea - while connected to a display my 6"+ mobile screen turns into a landscape mini keyboard with trackpad and everthing is displays on the wireless or physically connected screen. I can manually switch back in forth from mobile to workstation quickly if needed for whatever reason, privacy, answer a call, etc. Again show me the way to make this happen with a PocketPC!
So now Windows fans desperately need a fresh W10M phone but we know there won't be such a new device. Never!
So what's the point of Microsoft still working on a system that is considered obsolete?
I guess W10M has many things in common with their new OS. They use it as a bridge. They experiment, learn and get feedback they will definitely use in their full windows device when it's ready. Till then, we and our older phones can only benefit by this.
What I mean is that a little bit of love for diehard fans wouldn't hurt MS. Just remember that the 950s were supposed to be "for fans" and though they are alright clearly it was a half arsed attempt.
1. Best yahoo answer: Lack of apps
2. Quora: due to monotony and lack of dynamism