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What should Microsoft name its rumored folding Surface?

Hopeful and former Windows phone users have long enjoyed the Live-tiled Windows phone UI and Microsoft's ecosystem.

Sadly, Windows phones have been a persistent consumer failure. Still, Microsoft's Surface brand defined a category and inspired an industry of OEM support for 2-in-1 PCs and has inspired fans to grasp onto "Surface" as Microsoft's solution to its smartphone woes. Hence, hopeful fans have dubbed Microsoft's elusive mobile device the "Surface Phone." But since the device isn't a phone, that name won't work.

What's in a name?

Careful analysis over the years took into account Microsoft's long-held goal to bring the full power of Windows to a mobile form factor. Its various investments, Windows 10, OneCore and public statements from leadership helped shape a narrative that Microsoft was not pursing smartphones.

With this understanding as a foundation, we persisted that Microsoft is pursuing a Windows-on-mobile vision. Thus, we asserted the term Surface "Phone," for this non-phone device, is inaccurate. Microsoft has shifted from smartphones to pocketable PCs with the power of Windows 10, telephony and an inking focus.

Additionally, recent patents reveal this device will be foldable hearkening back to the canceled Microsoft Courier and a device foreshadowed in a 2009 Microsoft future vision video. As such, writers and fans have forsaken the inaccurate Surface Phone moniker and embraced the awkward "Microsoft's folding device" description when talking about this device. Given what we believe we know so far, what should Microsoft name this long-awaited device?

The name should define

In biblical times, names reflected a person's character or destiny. In like manner, names of products are important to quickly define what something is and what it's for. In the dynamic and fast-paced tech industry, a product's name is critical. It must swiftly convey to the target audience, whose attention is being consistently courted, the purpose and position of the device.

The name of Microsoft's new mobile device must convey its position in relation to smartphones. Microsoft may be launching a pocketable PC into a context where users see any telephony-capable pocketable device as a smartphone. Whatever Microsoft calls this device the name must convey that it is a Windows 10 PC to reshape what people expect from a pocketable telephony-enabled device.

The name should be marketable

Since Microsoft must market the "what and why" of this device, the name must be simple, memorable, original and appealing. If it's too long, complicated, immemorable or inaccurately describes the device marketing attempts will fail.

Sadly, Microsoft has a spotty record with naming products. The "Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter" comes to mind. Chromecast is much catchier name for a similar product. A product's name must be comfortable to say and connect with people emotionally and intellectually.

Microsoft must recognize that though the device's audience will initially be the enterprise, people with iPhone Xs, Galaxy Notes and Surface Books are making a company's technology decisions. The devices they possess have names that work emotionally and psychologically.

The name should appeal to OEMs

The device's name must clearly convey to Microsoft's OEM partners the category that Microsoft's creating. This is critical since Microsoft's role is to set the standard for a category and then rely on OEMs to democratize devices at different price points. If OEM partners are confused about the product's position they won't be inspired to create similar devices.

Microsoft's Surface, "the tablet that can replace your laptop," provided clear messaging that OEM partners embraced.

Windows 2-in-1s are paving the way for the Surface phone

How can Microsoft ensure OEMs understand that its foldable pocket PC is a full Windows PC, that can replace a tablet, become a PC, has telephony but is not a phone?

The name should have staying power

Enterprise customers are this device's initial target. Of course, they're also consumers with iPhones and Android phones. To reduce resistance, whatever Microsoft names this device, it must be clear to users that this device is a PC (with a unique form factor) and not a phone.

After a couple of generations of this device, Microsoft's long-term goal may be to bring this PC category to consumers. With 5G and Progressive Web Apps (PWA) on the horizon, the app gap could potentially be solved as developers build PWAs for all platforms.

What should Microsoft name this pocketable, inking-focused PC? Some people have suggested "Surface Journal," "Surface Scribe," "Surface Note" and "Surface Fold." Share your thoughts in comments and on Twitter.

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!

431 Comments
  • Not Surface Scribe! =P
  • Not Surface Note either. "Note" has been extensively used. And not Surface Jorunal too. Surface Journal... that's a mouthful lol :P 
  • Surface Note is good. Steals some "familiarity" from Samsung which aids marketability (though hopefully not the exploding part ....) and with Surface is it's own known brand it doesn't get drowned by it. Indeed it invites comparisons instead. That leads to more discussion. Assuming it's a good device, the more talk the better.
  • Huawei also has a device name Note and is drowned out by Samsung.  I don't think it's a good marketing advantage but see the point. But this would also make people believe this is a smartphone device who aren't familiar with the strategyof this if they are comparing the two, even though they aren't remotely the same and imo could hurt the image that this is just another WM smartphone device nobody wants. 
  • Exactly... And consumers know who makes the Note.. When they see Note by anyone but Samsung they think "Knockoff", and "Surface Knockoff" isn't my second pick.
  • I don't disagree with recycling though, but it should recognise the ARM heritage as that's the defining and revolutionary feature. How about the Windows Archimedes? Or the Surface Archimedes? ARM would be proud. Hey, what about the Surface Acorn or Windows Acorn? That would also point to the fact this is the seed of the next generation of mobile device paradigm to succeed the phone?
  • The problem with "Surface Note" is that it not only DOESN'T separate this new device form factor from the smartphone category,, it actually pulls it towards the smartphone category, and I doubt that MS would want to convey that.... And, I'm not arguing about whether it's a phone, or not (BECAUSE THAT'S A POINTLESS ARGUMENT THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ANYTHING LOGICAL), rather that this device needs to be positioned outside of the smartphone/candy bar category, into a new category of it's own.
  • Whatever they call the device, I feel Microsoft needs to also have some sort of trade- in/ upgrade program for business and consumer users who they've scorned; I hope Satya's intelligence allows him to understand he burned businesses, consumers, and OEM's too and must offer some incentive to entice adoption.
  • That's really all up to the marketing department... They must get that pitch past the bean counters.
    ..........
    That's what we're talking about here "MARKETING". We're to this point with this device now, and it's fun.
  • What makes you think they won't just call this Surface Phone and they want to stay away from phones? The code name for this device is a phone number for crying out loud. Microsoft isn't too dumb to think they can argue that a small touch screen device isn't a phone.
  • What makes you think I don't think they might just call this Surface Phone? I don't work for MS, why are you asking me?🤷🏽🤷🏽🤷🏽🤷🏽
  • You mean other than you saying that they won't want it considered a phone?!
  • Yes. Other than me saying they won't consider it a phone. Which I still say. So, of course I doubt they would call it a Surface Phone, but I don't know. Your guess is as good as mine. If you're looking for more from me than you're wasting your time. As usual it's a stupid argument with you, and I'm done.
  • Rod, why are you looking for a fight?
  • I'm looking for a fight? What? How? You should be asking him that. I never address him, he addresses me.. Look at all of my comments on this, and every article. The crazy dude follows me around like a lost dog. He will not go away! I've even asking him to ignore me on many occasions. He doesn't stop. Now you're wondering why I reply to him the way I do? Really? Lol. Read again.
  • True. But on the other hand it's OS code is a freaking phone number! Wouldn't surprise me if they do market it as a phone. Or they're just trolling! Andromeda by itself is nice actually, but I think they need to tag it as a Surface. Just can't think of any exciting names ...  
  • 😂😂😂 Although I like (and conceived😉) Surface Scribe, I give you a thumbs up for being first with that, and making me LOL this morning. So, in celebration, let's actually examine "Scribe"
    ................
    scribe
    [skrīb]
    NOUN
    a person who copies out documents, especially one employed to do this before printing was invented.
    synonyms: clerk · secretary · copyist · transcriber · [more]
    an ancient Jewish record-keeper or, later, a professional theologian and jurist.
    another term for scriber.
    VERB
    write:
    "he scribed a note that he passed to Dan"
    mark with a scriber.
    .......................................
    A few reasons I like this name.
    1.. It refers to a time before typing.. "Writing by hand"
    2.. The definitions make reference to writings for business, professional, or legal, related reasons, which will most likely be the focus of such a device.
    3.. It starts with a "S", and so does "Surface". The two words play on each other audibly, and visually.
    4.. It's only one syllable. Quick to say, remember, especially after saying Surface.
    5.. It's not only a Good name for this device (In my opinion), I think that it's a good name for the entire device category, and what better way is there to separate your device from others on the market then by puting the name for the new device category front, and center.... MS could even let Samsung, and other OEM'S, use "Scribe". "Galaxy Scribe", "HP Elite Scribe",, and so forth. (probably would end up getting the nickname "scribbler", but nicknames are good for mindshare, as well)
    .......
    You might not like the name, and that's understandable, because I never really liked "Lumia", and Nokia let us vote on that, so I was really disappointed... But, you must admit that I do make a good case for it, and that it actually does make good business sense. I say "Scribe" for the name of this device because I have thought it out; it's not just some name off the top of my head. So, don't like it, but at least consider, and respect it. 😎
    Or, you can like it. I won't tell anyone🤫
  • There are two names need to be defined.  One is the name of the new mobile category so all OEMs can build to it.  For instance, MS can call it Pocket PC or W10 Mobile.  The other one is the name of the device built by each company.  MS can call it anything under the Surface family - Phone, Mobile, Courier or Phablet, etc. 
  • So you're saying "Surface Phablet" might be a plausible Surface device name?
  • It may not sound cute, but it sure describes properly what the device is.
  • I'm sold on Surface Scribe.
  • Word
  • I personally like the name Scribe. As a writer (including poetry, plays, working on a novel, and children's book) it appeals to me as well. I also like Journal.🙂
  • The device needs a name that could broaden its appeals.  Above all, it is a phone, a tablet, a desktop with Cointinuum, a MR Viewer, a notebook with ink/pen or a collaboration tool with Team/Whiteboard.  Scribe or Journal sounds too narrow for its targeted audience. 
  • SURFACE INK
  • or SURFACE INC
  • surface 360
  • Might as well call it the "Surface 2005" 😉
  • "Surface Trojan Horse Nokia Lumia Canceller"???
  • "Surfia"... Part Surface Part Lumia.
    Microsoft: "Hey Lumia fans! Told you we wouldn't forgot about you!!"" 😂😂😂
  • "Surface Suppository*"... Stick this one up your @$$, and stay connected all day long!
    .
    .
    .
    *Disclaimer... Surface Lube™ Sold Separately 😒
  • LOL
  • 😄
  • "Surface Beta Test 2"
  • "Twice" better than .....
  • Come again?
  • Surface Fold, then
  • Fold???? 🃏🎲♥♣♠♦🎰 Ummmmm, probably not the best name.
  • Aww **** i just said the same... I'm not that original now I guess
  • I came to the comment section just to say that, hahaha
  • Surface Compact. Compact would also describe the device type, so other companies could have compacts too. Some dictionary terms for compact. 1. a formal agreement between two or more parties. (Tablet/Phone/PC)
    2. arranged within a relatively small space
    3. designed to be small in size and economical in operation
    4. solidly or firmly built
    5. composed or made (usually fol. by of): a book compact of form and content.
    6. a small case containing a mirror, face powder, a puff, and sometimes rouge.
  • Notable Surface ^^
  • "Notable" is kinda cool... It's far enough away from "Note". Interesting🤔🤔🤔
  • Surface Duo For the Dual screen. I am super intrigued by this.  I don't know if it'll be enough to replace my Note 8 for an all around device or my Surface 3 LTE, But I haven't been excited for something MS on a "mobile" scale since my 1520.  
  • Xbox One, OneDrive, OneNote, one... Surface One! Surface S? Surface Portable? Surface Agile? Surface Dextrous? Surface Deft? Surface Comprehensive? XD I think shorter name will work better, esp in global market.
  • I like Surface One! Since Msft is unifying Windows into Core OS (internal project), One! sounds better especially when this device will be the beginning of something new. Two! can soon replace One! as a successor. Just kidding xD
  • "Surface One: The One device that can replace your phone, you tablet and possibly your PC." Future Decoded, October 30th, 2018
  • Microsoft TwoFace. Possible Batman tie-in. Lol. 🤣
  • The best idea so far!! 👏Surface One!!
  • Surface Cancelled, or Surface Abandoned. Just so we're not too surprised if either happens. They're rather good at both of these. On a more serious note. Will wait and see, but not expecting much from them.
  • Windows, Xbox, C#, visual studio (now for free, they also give small team project manager and svn/git for free), office, etc are still around. UWP will not go away. They are also the biggest GitHub contributor. Quite persistent if I may say.
  • Butt hurt much?
  • Well, after 4 Windows phones I deserve to be entitled to a hurting butt... And whine about it, cover your ears if u don't wanna hear it.
  • 🙄... Get over it, and move on.
    We enjoyed our time with our phones. Just focus on the glory days instead of being bitter,,,, like some idiots around here.
  • Well, I still have my Lumia 950XL for the next 2 years, maybe even more if I decide to be masocistic :-) So for this upcoming time I will still miss my bank app, kiwi.com app, trafi app, airbnb app and the list goes ON AND ON. Oh, and the phone itself randomly reboots, or the screen decides not to turn on for like 2 minutes and other neat glitches...
  • Honestly,,, I'm looking forward to getting this Surface, and a some type of Android device for apps, and car infotainment connectivity.. MS has SERIOUSLY dropped the ball on consumers entertainment, and I don't see how they can recover from that this coming decade, which is sad.... Stupid MS!!!! 😭😭😂
  • Glory days? What glory days?
  • You're right. Us fans had no glory days. We absolutely hated our devices, and received no joy from them. Thanks for reminding us.
    You're absolutely right as usual.
    Next comment please.
    ..........
    Now, can someone tell us what they would love most to see carried over from Windows Phone into this Surface Device?
  • I like to see this Surface Mobile Device have three capacitive keys on the outside of the device, just like our Lumias have. Back/Windows/Search
  • To much bezel required. It would be a waste of space and look out-dated in late 2018.
  • NOT IF THEY WERE ON THE EDGE OF THE DEVICE❗ ✅....😃😲😲😲😆🌈
    .....
    Go ahead. Give us your negative counter. We know you have to disagree just to disagree.
  • Wouldn't the edge of the device either be too thin, or accidently be hit a lot? I love these buttons as well, but depending on the device , they may not end up working. I think there needs to at least be some kind of Windows button though. Camera button is also a big plus.
  • I thought about that. Anything is possible.. The buttons might be inactive until in only a certain config? IDK. Maybe the device can sense how it's being held?... I don't know! What am I, one of the engineers??? These questions are driving me nutz!! 🤪🤪😝😝
  • Remember those capacitive buttons on the Lumia's were even removed and moved onto the screen instead. That's maybe something they'd repeat and only be visible when required by swiping them onto the screen?
  • On the screen and swiping up (or over) seems to be the way to go.
  • Damn. Cool stuff. So check this out. What if the sides how some thin a$S screen strips on them, and could be user configured for whatever buttons the user would like?... Add some customization
  • I am not disagreeing just to disagree. Have you used an iPhone X yet? It has shown that no buttons are needed at all. I hope Samsung updates my GS8 to work in a similar way. Apple has it right.
  • Terrific... But, that's what I specifically would like. I asked people to post what they would like. Just take it with a grain of salt, and move on.
    .
    And, don't give me that BS. All you do is try to push peoples button around here, and that's why nobody likes you. I have told you how much I don't like you, and have asked you numerous times to leave me alone, and you follow me around commenting on my post more than anyone, and you wonder why you get called a troll... If you don't do it just to disagree, and start an argument, them why do you do it? I make it a point to never comment on your post because I don't like you personally, and that's my choice. Why don't you do the same for mine?
    Can you answer that please?
  • Yeah, why should anyone be mad that Microsoft lured them into spending hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars on a platform they never intended to support anyway? Silly people!
  • I got over it a long time ago. Still, do feel free to show any evidence that it 100% won't be cancelled.
  • Don't project your feelings on others.
  • Vibrant and versatile. The new surface V - with the half folded device making the V in the image.
  • Pretty smart!
  • 🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔 That is way cooler than that stupid "Scribe" name...
  • I scrolled thorugh everything but you just hit the right spot, now if they won't call it Surface V I won't be even interested, this is just genius name!  
  • 🤔🤔🤔 it is interesting, I must say.
  • What will they call it? Discontinued after 12 months.
  • I give it up to 2 years... After all, they will try to ramp up support for it. They could call it Surface BANDaid as a tribute to flopped MSFT Band...
  • 13 months. First 12 months it won't have stylus support.
    Windows Hello 2.0 will be a future update sometime around the final month 13. Windows central sources will confirm Hello 2.0 coming soon but likely not out of the box.
  • 😅
  • Surface Courier.
  • I like it, but I believe it has too many syllables.
  • Tell that to "Surface Studio"
  • Surface Companion? Surface Pocket?
  • Surface pocket makes the most sense to me.
  • Lumia 360 X
  • surface...   book
  • I though about this too...
  • How about any of these:
    1. Windows STC Pro (Soon To be Cancelled)
    2. Windows Mobile YW (You wish)
    3. Microsoft GEPM (Genuisly Engineered Poorly Marketed)
    4. Surface 3 in 1 SPI (Satya Perfers iPad/iPhone)
    5. Microsoft Foldable NIMIUT (Nobody In Microsoft Is Using This)
    6. Surface Mini Nutela
    7. The new iPhone to be sold in MS stores
  • I like the way you think.
  • You didn't mention that it will run Android 10
  • Brilliant, any of those will do :-)
  • Now,,,, #3 is what scares me..... MARKETING!
  • They should call it "Huge Waste Of Time".
  • You're a positive one! New years resolution to be more positive? So getting the saltiness out now?
  • He's been this cheerful since the WP7/ WP Blog days of yester year... 🤭🤭🤭
  • It will be able run WordPerfect7 for DOS Mobile.
  • Lol. What?
  • I loved WP7.  In spite of it losing some of WP7's features, I loved WP8 as well.  My 1020 still runs WP8.1 and remains my driver.  I tolerate the 950 as a backup and to keep up with what few fixes they roll out.  What HAS angered me over the years is all the other users who insisted Microsoft make their phone more Android-like, which is how we got into this mess.  Losing the best of what Windows Phone brought to the table, instead people just going out and buying an Android phone and leave WP to continue charting a different path.  Ultimately, that path got so convoluted.  And the fact that Nadella had it in for the OS from the beginning didn't help matters any.
  • In the end it will all work out for the better... Can you say that to yourself just for today?... Say it
  • That's exactly what I said 6 years ago.  Microsoft let Android users dictate the outcome of WP.  That became the fatal flaw.  The best iteration of WP was 7.X.
  • 😂😂😂😂😂
    Will y'all cheer the **** up!! Good days are coming!! Keep your heads up!
  • It was fresh, but had lot of flaws. A bit like first iPhone. But it rebooted too many times 8/8.1/10 and with each reboot it lost more of it's uniqueness and stability.
  • Whatever it is, I'm just hoping Microsoft starts dropping numbers and starts using years to denote new models like with the new Surface Pro; not sure why they did that and then opted for the Surface Book 2 though.  Personnaly I think it makes much more sense to just name things like: Surface Pro (2017), Surface Book (2017), etc.  That way you at least know what year the tech is from as opposed to a Surface Pro 4 which came out two years before the Surface Book 2. An ideal naming convention for me would be: Surface Courier: The folding Surface powered by ARM Surface: The current Surface Pro form factor powered by ARM with both WiFi only and LTE models Surface Pro: The current Surface Pro form factor but with the option to use the type cover or Surface Book base Surface Book: The current Surface Laptop form factor. Surface Studio: The current Surface Studio
  • The irony is Surface Book is most appropriate!
  • True
  • Surface Booklet?
    Surface miniBook?
    Surface microBook?
    Surface iotaBook?
    Surface surfACE?
    --
    I guess the use-case might influence the name.
  • I'm going with "Surface Washer&Dryer*"... Stay connected with your laundry all day long!... Two screens so you can see your clothes wash on one, and dry on the other
    ....
    *Disclaimer: Microsoft will not be responsible for any random public regurgitation caused by dizziness from watching closed spin for hours while using this device.
  • I like Surface Booklet!! Genius
  • Reminds me of "Surface Pamphlet"
    Or "Surface Flier"
    Or "Surface Junk Mail"😆