Wait. What? There’s a Windows Surface Phone? No. And it doesn’t matter if Microsoft takes the plunge into the mobile device industry because it’s too little too late. Why? Differentiation.
A key to success, among many, is product differentiation. Look how Apple differentiates itself from competition. Mac, iPhone, iPad, Watch, Apple TV et al– more expensive, but usually higher quality hardware. Further differentiation comes with macOS, iOS, watchOS, tvOS, too. Apple carefully cultivates an ecosystem where the user experience often surpasses any competitor.
So, let’s say Microsoft launches a Windows Surface Phone. Anybody got a problem with that? Why would you switch? Yes, Surface Phone would run Office, but Office also runs on cheaper Android devices and on iPhone (for free). Why switch?
Worse for Microsoft is the application business. Other than Microsoft’s home grown applications what app developer would create apps for a tiny sliver of a market? There are 2-billion customers waiting to use and buy Android apps. Another 1-billion use iOS apps. Nobody has a Windows Surface Phone so nobody makes apps.
That means Microsoft must adopt Android so customers would have familiar app territory and a large inventory of apps to choose. But what about product differentiation again? How does a Microsoft Windows Surface Phone differentiate itself from Android smartphones?
The ever prescient-less John C. Dvorak (that John C.) thinks Microsoft is ready to introduce Surface Phone.
Microsoft has to be prominent in the phone market because that’s where the action is. It has tried and failed several times, first with smartphone games, then with Windows Phone. Third time’s the charm?
Well, let’s see. There was an Amazon Fire phone. A Facebook phone. Both were predicted to topple Apple from a dominating perch. Do you know anyone with an Amazon or Facebook phone? And, why does Microsoft need to be where the action is?
Microsoft Surface PCs haven’t had market success, either.
Microsoft will pull a rabbit out of a hat and go back to its tradition of “embrace and extend” via the most powerful marketing tool it ever developed: technology licenses.
Uh, no. Been there. Done that. Microsoft had plenty of Windows Phone partners who moved to Android ASAP. But embracing Androiod on Windows Surface Phone means there is no differentiation again.
Microsoft should swap out remaining Windows phones with Surface phones. It tells users that you never lose when you pick a Microsoft product, and it would seed the new phone into the market overnight.
Microsoft could do that because it wouldn’t cost much money. How many Windows Phones are left in the wild? Not more than a few dozen, right?
I’m not saying Microsoft won’t launch a completely revamped, Android-based Windows Surface (sans the Windows part), or even attempt to pull a rabbit out of a hat and put Windows on the phone and have it run real Windows apps, but either way, this would be too little too late.
The market has spoken.