updated 06:15 am EDT, Fri June 22, 2012
Microsoft rumored working on own WP8 smartphone
Former Goldman Sachs analyst Rick Sherland believes that Microsoft is planning on following up its Surface tablet with its own Window Phone 8 handset, reports Reuters. Although Microsoft has neither confirmed nor denied the rumor, Steve Ballmer did not explicitly rule out the possibility when questioned on the matter as far back as October last year. Windows Phone 8 is a critical component of Microsoft's integrated technology platform and it may be hoped that a Microsoft branded product will help to kick start its latest mobile OS reboot.
'Our industry sources tell us that Microsoft may be working with a contract manufacturer to develop their own handset for Windows Phone 8, wrote Sherlund now an analyst for Normura. 'It is unclear to us whether this would be a reference platform or whether this may be a go-to market Microsoft-branded handset,' he added.
The announcement of the Microsoft designed and branded Surface tablet for Windows 8 and Windows RT completely caught its traditional hardware partners off-guard - for 37 years the company has primarily focused on software, and had never entered the PC or tablet segments as a hardware maker.
A similar plan to drive Windows Phone 8 could be a double-edged sword for key Windows Phone 8 partners including Nokia. On one hand, any Microsoft smartphone launch would generate significant media interest raising the profile of the mobile OS. On the other hand, Windows Phone makers have been struggling to gain any significant market traction in the face of the iOS and Android onslaught.
The last time Microsoft attempted to enter the mobile handset market was an abject disaster. Following its acquisition of Danger, it launched the Kin, which was an immediate sales flop selling no more than 9,000 units in total. At the time, this was put down to in-house conflict between the Kin OS and the influential Windows Phone team.
Windows Phone 8 is also caught in a position where current Windows Phone 7 handsets can't be upgraded to the new operating system, which will result in an immediate backlash from current users who feel burnt despite their loyalty. Although Windows Phone 7.8 will go some way to addressing these concerns, it will still likely leave many current Windows Phone users more than a little disgruntled.