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Goodbye Surface Phone: Microsoft’s Windows Phone is nearing its end

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Microsoft’s Windows Phone is indeed dying a slow death. If the recent IDC reports are any indicator, Microsoft with its Windows Phone software managed to sell just 4.5 million units in the last quarter. Compared to the same quarter in the last year, Microsoft was doing a bit better with about 10.5 millions units. Moreover, these numbers may sound fine to a consumer, hook them up to chart with smartphone OS share and it just represents 1.1 percent compared to other mobile operating systems.

The same report points out that things look far worse when you bring in the numbers. According to Benedict Evans an analyst from Andreessen Horowitz, Microsoft’s Windows Phone in its entire existence (till now) managed to move just 110 million units compared to Android and iOS’ 4.5 billion. So yes, the future looks extremely bleak for Windows Phone indeed.

More importantly, even Microsoft seems a bit uninterested in its own smartphones, and seems to be focussed on the Surface tablets and software instead. The new Windows 10 Mobile-powered flagships are nothing to talk about even with their updated specs and liquid cooling have been fighting the same uphill battle in the app game, that it has not come to terms with since the launch of Windows Phone 7 more than five years ago. And while Continuum does seem interesting, it is far from full blown PC experience, which is what users expected during the initial announcement.

As for the many rumours about Microsoft’s Surface Phone, it seems like a case of too little too late. The Surface Phone should have been Microsoft’s best and last bet with Windows 10 Mobile, but Microsoft chose to go with the Lumia 950 and 950 XL instead, two smartphones that few buyers would be interested in because they do not connect with the Surface at a brand level.

It was not too long ago that when Satya Nadella stepped in as CEO at Microsoft and made things clear in memo that Microsoft will focus on software and that it would release fewer Windows Phones going forward. And that today seems to have materialised. It is making plenty of progress on the same front and delivering more to other mobile ecosystems than it ever has before, we have a ton of apps on iOS, and few more on Android. Cortana has moved on too.

And there are other problems with Windows 10 Mobile as well. After delaying the launch of Windows 10 Mobile to current (we are not sure which models these would refer too) and recently launched smartphones, for what seems like an eternity, even hardcore Windows Phone fans may be having a tough time resisting the temptation to switch over to Android or iOS. Last we heard, even Windows Phone boss Joe Belfiore tweeted out using an iPhone from a recent trip (he did however confirm using the same for testing and user experience purposes).

I had recently written a piece stating that ‘Windows phones do not need Android apps, they just don’t need to exist‘ in which I mentioned that Microsoft should focus on what they are doing and have been doing well in the past, software. What it needs to do right now is put an end to everyone pointing fingers at its dying Windows Phones and just shut that department entirely. And going by the recent IDC report it does look like the shutdown is bound to happen sooner than we think.

What is worrisome and has been an issue for the smart consumer is why should he/she buy a smartphone that has no future, one that nobody is interested in building apps for and still costs a premium Rs 43,000 (Lumia 950). In that case, I’d rather choose a Blackberry Priv at Rs 62,999 with Android inside!


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