Most of the tech community has been waiting for Microsoft to start making handsets for quite sometime now. And in response, Microsoft has been pretty cagey about its future plans. But rumor has it that Microsoft’s new phone will make its debut pretty soon. And that new phone may have big ripple effects that change the Android market as we know it.
Just to be clear, the official word from Microsoft is that they may release a new smartphone but they’re not sure when. But no one really believes them; least of all the Wall Street Journal. According to their sources, Microsoft is not only planning to make a new smartphone but that it’s already in the works.
And they’re testing it right now with component suppliers in “Asia”. The scuttlebutt comes from “officials” from major Microsoft parts suppliers who didn’t want to be named.
Whenever it arrives, Microsoft’s new phone is sure to make a lot of consumers happy. When OS and phone makers get together, good things happen.
And that’s exactly what other smartphone manufacturers are worried about.
Microsoft is a tech giant. And whenever they make a move, everyone gets nervous. And Microsoft’s move into the hardware industry is ruffling a lot of feathers.
The OS giant seemed pretty friendly when all it was selling was operating systems that made their computers, laptops and phones (just kidding) more valuable.
But now that Microsoft is horning in on the hardware side of the business with the release of The Surface last June, manufacturers and retailers are starting to get uncomfortable and use words like “monopoly”, “anti-trust” and “that’s super not fair”. And major manufacturers like Acer threatened to drop Microsoft’s PC OS from it’s tablets in reaction to the release of the Microsoft Surface.
We’re not sure how retailers are going to react to Microsoft’s new phone. But hearing Microsoft Chairman Steve Ballmer tell the Wall Street Journal that “We’re quite happy this holiday [season] going to market hard with Nokia, Samsung and HTC” has to sound a little threatening especially when it’s followed with something cryptic like “Whether we had a plan to do something different or we didn’t have a plan I wouldn’t comment in any dimension.”
After all, Microsoft is only able to sell its operating system through partnerships with Nokia, Samsung (and ZTE and LG). Once it starts directly competing with their handsets, those phone companies may retaliate by dropping the Microsoft OS.
And while Microsoft may transfer it’s OS to its own phone, it will be in pretty lonely company. And it’s a strategy that hasn’t worked in the past. Google tried it with the Nexus but the backlash from phone companies forced it to back down.
And now, even though Google bought and partnered with Motorola, handset manufacturers are still feeling burned by Google’s attempt to horn in on the handset market. Rumors continue to circulate that Samsung is interested in creating “its own software” to create a little distance from Google.
If the same thing happened to Microsoft , we’re not sure it could survive. Android may be healthy enough to stand on its own. But the Microsoft Windows Phone OS still has a long way to go before it can stand on its own two feet.
Despite steep price cuts on some of its handsets and big spec increases on others, Android and Apple still dominate the OS market. And now that BlackBerry may be making a comeback in 2013, they’ll be stealing market shares from the floundering incumbent OS before it has a chance to cement its place in the market.
But Microsoft may surprise us all yet. A new Windows Phone may alienate other phone manufacturers but it may be just what Microsoft needs to make Windows Phone really great. With complete control of its OS, Microsoft may be able to make it a viable competitor to Apple and Android operating systems.
With three viable OS’ on the market, there should be a lot to look forward to in the future. But there could also be a few unexpected changes like no OS upgrades for the Nokia Lumia 920 or the HTC Windows Phone 8X’s that many of us just bought.
There could be big changes coming to the OS market and we’ll keep you posted on the details as the drama unfolds.