Microsoft is allegedly planning to build its own smartphone, possibly a Surface branded model, although the company is only testing the device at this stage.
This is according to a piece in the Wall Street Journal, which claims that Microsoft is working with Asian component suppliers to test the device. However, it’s not the first time the possibility of a Surface phone has, erm, surfaced.
The Surface, of course, is Microsoft’s tablet hybrid (with an optional keyboard cover) which was launched recently alongside Windows 8. It offers a more productivity oriented slant than the iPad, coming priced around the same level as Apple’s slate, but offering that keyboard and a copy of Office (built for Windows RT, the Surface’s OS).
So if Microsoft can make its own slate – at the risk of angering its OEM partners – then why not a smartphone?
The company does appear to want to travel more down the route of Apple, what with its own iPad rival, and Microsoft stores rolling out thick and fast across the US (and doubtless to arrive elsewhere before too long). An iPhone rival is therefore a possibility – although Microsoft has some pretty close partners when it comes to smartphones, Nokia being a billion dollar bedfellow.
Would it incur the wrath of the Finnish company? Perhaps not, according to the WSJ, which notes that Nokia would welcome the move anyway – CEO Elop apparently called the potential Microsoft phone a “stimulant” to the market that would help raise the profile of Windows Phone.
Indeed, that could be the case. When Microsoft pushed out the Surface, the company’s launch made it clear it was focusing on pushing other OEMs hardware strongly, as well; and presumably this would be the case for Windows Phone, too.
Or the company could just be dabbling with a prototype – one of many – and all this will come to nothing.