Microsoft CEO Statya Nadella has surprised tech correspondents by admitting the firm’s flagship phones are not particularly good.
During an earnings call, Nadella talked a bit about Microsoft’s Windows 10 strategy moving forward, with particular emphasis on plans for the Windows Phone component and its mobile devices division. Speaking about the firm’s flagship smartphones, Nadella said “we don’t today have good devices,” but alleged that new plans were in place to offer high quality handsets with Windows 10 that would win the company success inside the mobile market.
Nadella revealed that Microsoft will only launch one or two smartphones every year per product category, and there are three categories it will focus on; business, budget consumer, and premium consumer.
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Since Microsoft acquired Nokia’s smartphone division it has largely released Windows Phone 8 handsets for the budget sector, although it’s difficult to gauge whether this has been a deliberate strategy with newly developed devices, or simply a case of working through a backlog of existing planned projects too late to cancel. Regardless, they have not had much of an impact on Microsoft’s bottom line.
That said, it’s interesting to hear that Nadella does not consider Microsoft’s existing flagships to be “good devices”. Here at KYM our opinion has never been that Nokia, and then Microsoft, produced bad flagships from a hardware, specs, and design perspective. On the contrary, they really have been rather excellent – and easily on par with Android rivals.
Where they’ve fallen down has been the software experience, and the abilities and scope of Windows Phone as a whole compared to the competition. That is something that Microsoft has clearly recognised, and the software too is all set to change of course with the renewed focus on Windows 10.
But we really hope Microsoft doesn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater by changing how it approaches Lumia devices too much.
Microsoft has confirmed that it will be launching “premium Lumias designed for Windows 10,” while leaked details have come up with two supposedly premium handsets codenamed Cityman and Talkman.
There is definitely still a place, we think, for the Lumia brand’s more angular design ethos, and mixture of metal and high-end polycarbonate, as well as other great features like the premium display and camera hardware we’ve seen on the likes of the Lumia 930. And they’ve always been packing top-of-the-line processors like Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragons.
The day-glo colour schemes? We can take them or leave them, but perhaps a return to Nokia’s “different strokes for different folks” attitude of offering swappable back covers (or at least on-purchase customisation, like Motorola) would be a better approach rather than focusing on what, if we’re honest, seems like an appeal to the “youth” market.
The real proof of the pudding will be in the Windows 10 software though. It certainly looks promising right now, but we’ve seen a lot of promising stuff from Microsoft’s previous previews turn sour in the cold light of day. It doesn’t matter whether Nadella thinks Microsoft’s current smartphones or future smartphones are good enough or not, because it’s the software experience that’s really going to make or break them.
Ever since Nadella became CEO of Microsoft in February 2014, a lot of eyes have been eagerly watching the firm to see whether the man who replaced the somewhat erratic Steve Ballmer might make some radical, but much-needed, changes and steer the company into calmer waters.
In recent months some of those changes have come to light, most notably the bold decision to skip Windows 9 and announce Windows 10 as a true multi-device platform and a complete revamp of Microsoft’s strategy for mobile and traditional computing. On top of this though, Microsoft has also revealed its biggest ever quarterly net loss of $3.2bn, largely due to dissolving its (formerly) Nokia smartphone division and the continued decline in demand for Windows software and devices.