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article imageNadella implies Microsoft still working on enterprise smartphones

By James Walker     Oct 18, 2017 in Technology
Microsoft recently confirmed Windows 10 Mobile is no longer in active development. This isn't stopping the company from pursuing refocused mobile ambitions though. In a new interview, CEO Satya Nadella suggested an enterprise device could still be coming.
Back to software basics
Nadella was interviewed by GeekWire Editor Todd Bishop at the 2017 GeekWire Summit. As reported by OnMSFT, Bishop asked how Microsoft will remain relevant in the mobile market when it doesn't have its own mobile platform. Although Windows 10 Mobile is technically still supported, Microsoft is now clear there will be no new features or devices coming anytime soon.
Windows 10 for phones
Windows 10 for phones
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Nadella responded by confirming Microsoft's currently focused on putting its software in front of the most users. This means it has to write apps for rival mobile platforms, evidenced by the recent launch of Microsoft Edge on Android and iOS.
Nadella admitted the company "absolutely [does] not have the [market] share" to justify further investment in consumer hardware and is consequently uncompetitive as a third ecosystem. It's therefore adopting iOS and Android as ways of promoting its successful software services.
Servicing the enterprise
This doesn't necessarily mean the end for Windows phones though. Continuing a string of vague comments made over the past year, Nadella hinted that Microsoft is still working on a future smartphone. He noted that enterprise customers have very different requirements to consumers and often "don't care about" the things that consumers value. Microsoft could reinvent itself as a mobile vendor catering specifically for business customers.
"The reality is that we cannot compete as a third ecosystem with no share position and attract developers," said Nadella. "The thing we're doing is to make sure that the software is available so that we can service the enterprise customers who really don't care about a lot of the things a consumer will care about."
Category creation
Microsoft's now taking a break from mobile hardware and its first-party platform. Nadella's clearly not ready to completely write the company out of the smartphone industry though. He said Microsoft operates "end to end," working in areas of tech ranging "from silicon to cloud," before pointing out how successful Microsoft devices like Surface have focused on "category creation."
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The company's now working to create another new category. This week, Microsoft launched its Windows Mixed Reality ecosystem, designed to spur adoption of augmented and virtual reality. Importantly, it's not the first participant in the market. Instead, Windows Mixed Reality's offer is built around unique benefits, such as its relatively affordable selection of headsets and seamless compatibility with Windows 10.
This approach towards hardware, oriented around significant market disruption, is likely to form the basis of Microsoft's next mobile strategy. The former aim of merely becoming the third major mobile ecosystem won't be revived. If the company does return to the industry, it'll have specific intentions and a focused product to achieve them. Nadella said Microsoft has "got to use" its varied technical expertise to "innovate new categories," hinting at what's in development.
More about Microsoft, Satya Nadella, digital transformation, Enterprise, Business