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article imageMicrosoft is making phones 'but they may not look like phones'

By James Walker     May 3, 2017 in Technology
Microsoft has once again reaffirmed its commitment to its smartphone business. Days after its phone revenue crashed to the floor in the company's latest earning call, CEO Satya Nadella has given another indication that something revolutionary is coming.
Over the past few years, claims of a Microsoft "superphone" to reinvent Windows Phone and spearhead the company's renewed mobile efforts have achieved an almost mythical status. The speculation has been fuelled by comments from Nadella and other Microsoft executives.
This week, Microsoft revealed in its first quarter earnings call that it made just $5 million from smartphone hardware sales between January and March 2017. In the same period three years ago, it made $1.4 billion. The company's range of phones is now aging and Microsoft has killed off its old but still relatively popular devices made before 2014.
With Windows 10 Mobile now practically non-existent on analysts' charts, it could be expected that Microsoft is ready to concede defeat. Instead, the company has again stated it intends to retain a foothold in the industry. As reported by MSPoweruser, Nadella recently gave an interview to MarketPlace that includes references to Microsoft's future plans for mobile.
Microsoft Lumia 950 XL press image
Microsoft Lumia 950 XL press image
During the discussion, Nadella made a point of talking about ability with its Surface convertibles to create a new kind of product category. Drawing on his previous comments, Nadella suggested that Microsoft's future phones "may not look like phones that are there today."
The implication is that Microsoft is working on a defining mobile device. Instead of aiming to lead the category, the company's instead looking to create another altogether.
The Microsoft Lumia 650  launched 15/02/2016
The Microsoft Lumia 650, launched 15/02/2016
This fits with comments Nadella made in November in an interview with the Australian Financial Review. He explained how Microsoft doesn't want to be driven by "envy of what others have." The company seems to be looking beyond the current state of mobile to what lies ahead, aiming to be there before its current industry rivals. After debuting Windows handsets far too late after the smartphone revolution took hold, Microsoft is trying to ensure it has a place in the next generation of the mobile concept.
"We're looking for what's the next change in form and function," Nadella said to MarketPlace. "What we've done with Surface is a good example. No one before us 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."
"So in some sense when you say will we make more phones, I'm sure we'll make more phones, but they may not look like phones that are there today," he continued.
Microsoft Lumia 950 at the #Windows10 devices launch event.
Microsoft Lumia 950 at the #Windows10 devices launch event.
Over the past few months, Microsoft has unveiled multiple projects that appear to be related to its mobile ambitions. The development of Windows 10 on ARM and the increasing role of Continuum suggests the company is aiming for truly portable devices which can seamlessly convert between use cases. The "Surface Phone" could be a hub for your digital life, acting as a smartphone when you go out and your PC when you return home.
Although Microsoft clearly has plans for mobile, it's still not talking about when they'll actually appear. As it stands today, Windows' market presence is essentially negligible and Microsoft will be forced to start from scratch on promotional campaigns when its next device eventually appears. However long it takes, it now seems increasingly likely that the "Surface Phone" will be a noteworthy handset, even if it doesn't manage to achieve its goals.
More about Microsoft, Windows, Windows phone, windows 10, windows 10 mobile
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