Microsoft is working on its own branded WP8 device. Windows Phone Surface to launch in H1 next year
Microsoft is working on its own branded Windows Phone 8 smartphone, according to China Times.
They’ve been quietly developing the new device for more than 4 months now, have already selected an assembly partner and plan to launch the new Microsoft branded WP8 handset in the first half of 2013.
Now, this is completely unconfirmed rumor, and China Times had quite a few misses in reporting happenings in Asian supply chain. But they did have quite a few hits as well, so I think it is pretty likely we may see Microsoft’s own Windows Phone next year.
Microsoft must be getting rather frustrated with the Nokia partnership and its inability to break through in smartphones.
When the deal with Nokia was announced on Feb. 11th 2011, Microsoft certainly didn’t expect to remain a footnote in smartphone market 18 months later. The whole point of the alliance was to use Nokia’s brand and distribution power to rapidly ramp up Windows Phone sales through 2012. Unfortunately for both partners, most of the strengths Nokia brought to the table turned out to be an illusion.
After bungling original Lumia 800 launch, and putting Windows Phone 8 at risk with sales channels choke full of unsold 1st generation Lumia devices, Nokia might not be the favorite topic of conversation in Redmond right now. Ballmer&Co. must be wondering – why the heck they’ve just spent $1 billion subsidizing about 10 million Lumia smartphones Nokia was able to ship in a year.
Hence the feeling that while Nokia’s preferred partner status and all the concessions it was able to extract in that Windows Phone deal are probably safe for now, Microsoft is starting to hedge its bets by bringing new partners in.
Allowing Samsung to announce Ativ S Windows Phone 8 device a week before Nokia, making HTC Windows Phones “signature devices”, Ballmer getting on stage with Peter Chou and elevating HTC 8X/8S announcement to the same level as Nokia Lumia 920/820 launch – these are all gentle (for now) snubs at Nokia. And they are very clear signs that Microkia partnership isn’t what it used to be a year ago.
So Microsoft coming out with its own branded smartphone in a few months, wouldn’t surprise me at all. Such a device would be a clear signal for Windows Phone hardware partners, including Nokia, to step-up their game. I’m still not sure what Microsoft can bring to a phone hardware design table, but they managed to surprise the heck out of all of us with a Surface tablet. And, except for the low light Pureview camera, there isn’t much that excites me about Nokia Lumia 920.
A few surprises in a Windows Phone 8 Surface device pushing hardware innovation to the limits, would be very welcome.