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Will Microsoft Extend Surface Model And Manufacture Windows Phones? 118

Posted by timothy
from the we-control-the-vertical-integration dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "A day after Microsoft unveiled Windows Phone 8, a company executive explained why the company never implemented native code in Windows Phone 7, declined to say whether Windows Phone 7.x would be upgraded beyond version 7.8, and said Microsoft has no plans to acquire an OEM to manufacture smartphones in-house. Of course, in theory that wouldn't stop Microsoft from building its own hardware in-house, similar to what Google did with the Nexus One. In any case, Microsoft's decision to construct its hardware and software in-house for the Surface tablet project has led to some chatter that it could do the same for smartphones."
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Will Microsoft Extend Surface Model And Manufacture Windows Phones?

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  • by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice.gmail@com> on Thursday June 21, 2012 @04:33PM (#40403489)

    HTC designed and manufactured it, Google just rebranded it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by armv7 (2653575)
      Yup, Nexus S and Galaxy Nexus were both produced by Samsung. If there in a Microsoft Phone, my bets are on Nokia. They seem to have a rather cosy partnership with Microsoft, considering the integrating of NavTeq maps into WP8 and the $1 billion/yr bribe towards Nokia use Windows Phone exclusively.
      • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @05:09PM (#40403891) Journal

        Given where Nokia stock is right now, I'd say that an outright buy-out may be more likely than partnership if MS decides to make its own phone hardware.

        • this falls under the "why buy the cow when the milk is on sale?" tab. Nokia is sliding down the chute, and they're still spending a billion bucks to buy an outfit they're partnering with for camera technology they can't use in their WinPhone.

          you get better value by burning the billions of dollars on cable TV in a pay-per-view.

          there are 30 phone makers in china nobody has heard about that are making unlicensed clones for pennies on the dollar. give any of them a chance to bid on a million WinPhones with Mi

          • Right... but without the patents that would allow them to successfully sell the phones in the US.

            • by PickyH3D (680158)

              And without a second thought about quality assurance to make sure that each phone wasn't filled with lead, coated with mercury, and broken immediately.

          • by Luckyo (1726890)

            Because cow may be cheaper then milk for more then a couple of years, and they're betting on being long term milk drinkers.

        • Maybe nothing. Nokia, assuming due dilligence was done, would not have blindly entered into a sole source relationship with Microsoft as software vendor without securing some sort of non-compete clause or at least a Most-favored-nation type deal for access to the software in the future. My guess is that Nokia will not find iiself competing against MS on phones.

          On the other hand, maybe Nokia is just that stupid.

          • assuming due dilligence was done

            That's a big assumption.

          • On the other hand, maybe Nokia is just that stupid.

            The general feeling seems to be that Nokia didn't get such an agreement. Tommi Ahonen's [blogs.com] explanation is that Stephen Elop had just come from Microsoft where he drank their coolaid by the litre. He thought (thinks?) that Windows Phone is the whole future of the mobile market and so just getting in at the beginning is a great deal. Remember that Microsoft has always had grandiose plans (think Cairo) that don't pan out (think Vista). As an executive it's difficult to see what will fail and what will succeed

        • Given where Nokia stock is right now, I'd say that an outright buy-out may be more likely than partnership...

          I'd be all for that. If Nokia were actually Microsoft instead of just a brain-controlled zombie of Microsoft, I would lose my last shred of guilt about doing my part to drive a stake through its heart.

      • by exomondo (1725132)

        $1 billion/yr bribe towards Nokia use Windows Phone exclusively.

        If i'm not mistaken Nokia don't use Windows Phone exclusively, they don't even use it exclusively on their smartphone range, even their new ones like the PureView.

    • by Andy Dodd (701) <atd7@co[ ]ll.edu ['rne' in gap]> on Thursday June 21, 2012 @05:15PM (#40403973) Homepage

      None of the Nexus devices are done in-house - Google partners with one of their licensees for each one. To avoid licensees possibly getting angry, they tend to rotate it around. And honestly, Google would likely aggressively market any device a manufacturer makes that is as open as one of their Nexus devices.

      N1 was HTC, NS and GN were Samsung, rumored upcoming tablet is rumored to be Asus

      While the Xoom was not officially a "nexus" it was Google's "Google Experience" tablet device in some regions, adding Motorola to the list

      • Some here bleat on about 'Google bought Motorola for the patents'. Nevertheless, Motorola is in the doldrums as far as stealing back market share from the likes of Samsung.

        Either Google closes down Moto's manufacturing division or they start pumping out Nexus models to revive them.

        • I, for one, can't wait to buy a Droid Nexus Razr Maxx Bionic X HD 4G 2.

        • A Nexus RAZR would be very interesting indeed. The worst thing about Motorola's Android offerings was their crap skin (Motoblur, anyone?). The phones themselves are good (well, the Defy is arguably the best rugged phone, the Atrix was vastly underpowered for what it intended to do but the idea was nifty and the RAZR's only flaw was to be pricier than a comparable Galaxy SII), IMHO.

          • by h4rr4r (612664)

            You forgot the locked bootloader and the low res screen. Even the RAZR MAXX is not 720p.

            • I also forgot it hit the shelves about six months later than its rival devices. All in all, seems like it has a lot of flaws, then. Still good hardware on a very durable device, though. Hopefully Google can at least point Motorola in the right direction.

      • by symbolset (646467) *
        There is talk of ending the one-nexus-at-time rule.
        • by Andy Dodd (701)

          Yeah... There are rumors the next "nexus" round could be 5 devices.

          But then the tablet rumors started coming out, which started speculation that the "5 Nexuses" might be tablets in two different size/price classes, and maybe 2-3 handsets in various size/price classes.

          My personal favorite would be a selection of multiple Nexus handsets in similar size/price categories.

          The thing is, I don't think Google has EVER wanted a "single" Nexus handset in each generation. The problem is that many handset manufacture

  • Don't see why not. The dev tools are the same, the OS at least at the app layer is identical or nearly so. Assuming people like Surface I'm sure a Surface Phone version wouldn't be that hard to fire out.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    isn't that what a Nokia branded Windows Phone is?

  • by phonewebcam (446772) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @04:41PM (#40403567) Homepage

    Say in a foreign country well-known for its mobile business which was teetering after having been dealt a big blow by the iPhone. It would need to somehow persuade them to ditch their current production runs and software stacks in favour of their own. It would have to install one of their own men at the top to oversee all this. Then it would have to ensure there is no chance of this business recovering by publicly announcing a new line of software which is totally incompatible with the line it promised to save them with, thus ensuring via the osborne effect none sell at all. Bankrupt, this mobile business could then be picked up for a song, and its patents would really come in handy too. The trouble is, everyone in the business would see this coming if they tried that. Wouldn't they?

  • They should (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bhcompy (1877290) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @04:43PM (#40403587)
    I think a reference model is a good way to go. Works for many hardware vendors that also license their technology out(notably video card vendors, of course), works for showing what Android can do for Google, etc. No frills, no contract, just a piece of hardware that shines at showing what the base software can do without having all that other crap(Beats Audio, Dolby Surround, ginormous screen, etc) tacked on.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 21, 2012 @04:44PM (#40403599)

    Given that they've just stiffed OEMs by announcing that literally EVERY unsold phone in the channel is now abandonware, they may NEED to start making their own. Who on earth would want to lose *more* money on phones that almost certainly won't sell?

    • by bmo (77928)

      >Given that they've just stiffed OEMs by announcing that literally EVERY unsold phone in the channel is now abandonware, they may NEED to start making their own. Who on earth would want to lose *more* money on phones that almost certainly won't sell?

      Considering that nobody wants a Nokia Lumia, the "flagship," I'd say that abandoning Microsoft Phone OSes might be easy to do.

      Maybe that was the plan. Reduce Nokia to a pile of rubble, buy the rubble, pretend it's the old Nokia. The whole Microsoft-Nokia st

      • by bmo (77928)

        Correction to the above post.

        First link was YTD
        Second link was 3 months.

        Bah.

        --
        BMO

    • Ballmer's a cornered animal, with all the analysts gunning for him. he'll do anything at this point. that's what we're seeing in Surface and WinPhone8. just because big corporations got shook down for 10 years with "oh, it won't upgrade your existing machines well, but we won't support that old OS, you have to buy it all new" doesn't mean anybody is eating that crap any more. certainly corporations aren't. consumers want all the blingy new shiny without spending anything, just ask the MAFIAA.

    • by roc97007 (608802)

      I had the same thought. Didn't Microsoft commit the Osborne Mistake with this announcement? Or maybe they don't think they need to care?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        No, because wp7 was dead anyway. And no they don't care about their "partners", who are the only ones hurt at this point.

        Sure, they may take away some of whatever interest is left in wp7, but the main goal in this is to take away interest from iPhones and Androids. To take a fraction of a percentage away from massive iPhone/Android sales is worth more to MS than to save a percentage or two of meager wp7 sales.

        Also, consider this: MS shouldn't be making ANYTHING off wp7. All their "partners" are companies th

        • by roc97007 (608802)

          I see. I wasn't aware of that. That's brilliant on Microsoft's part. And the person at Nokia who signed that paper should never work in the industry again. Although now that I think about it, he probably doesn't need to...

          • by dbIII (701233)
            The person who signed that bit of paper, Elop, used to work for Microsoft and is probably still working for Microsoft even though Nokia pays his enormous (and undeserved) salary. On his watch Nokia has gone from the world number one seller of handsets to heading for oblivion.
            If he was being paid a mint and headed Nokia towards success the enormous salary wouldn't be a problem.
        • wp7 wasn't dead before this week.

          Nokia, however, was dead several years ago. About February 11, 2011:
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nokia#Alliance_with_Microsoft [wikipedia.org]

          • by roc97007 (608802)

            So... Nokia was the largest phone manufacturer worldwide when they signed the deal with Microsoft in Feb 2011, their share price immediately dropped 14%, and Apple overtook them in sales 4 months later. They're expected to have laid off 66,000 people by 2013. On June 18 2012 Moody's downgraded Nokia's rating to junk.

            Yep, Nokia is toast. A bad end to a once-good company. So, what does Microsoft think they'll sell in the phone market after Nokia goes under? Do they think the market will just go away?

    • by erroneus (253617)

      But but but!!! Nobody ever [lost money / got fired] for going Microsoft.

      Times are changing aren't they?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 21, 2012 @06:13PM (#40404701)
        In memoriam: Microsoftâ(TM)s previous strategic mobile partners

        ïMicrosoft's new "strategic partnership" with Nokia is not its first. For a decade the software company has courted and consummated relationships with a variety of companies in mobile and telecom. Here are the ones I can remember:

        LG. In February 2009 Microsoft Corp. signed a multiyear agreement for Windows Mobile to be included on devices from LG Electronics Inc. LG would use Windows Mobile as its "primary platform"for smartphones and produce about 50 models running the software.

        What happened? LG made a few Windows Mobile devices but with WinMo uncompetitive, they abandoned the platform and moved to Android losing years of market presence and all their profits.

        Motorola. In September 2003, Motorola and Microsoft announced an alliance. "Starting with the introduction of the new Motorola MPx200 mobile phone with Microsoft Windows Mobile software, the companies will collaborate on a series of Smartphone and Pocket PC wireless devices designed to create a virtual "remote control" for the Web-centric, work-centric, always-on-the-go mobile professional." In addition, the alliance includes cooperation on joint marketing and wireless developer programs.

        What happened? Motorola launched a series of Windows Mobile phones culminating in the Motorola Q "Blackberry killer". As Motorola hit the rocks in profitability new management reached for the Android liferaft. The company now relies exclusively on the Droid franchise.

        Palm. In September 2005 Palm and Microsoft announced a strategic alliance to "accelerate the Smartphone market segment with a new device for mobile professionals and businesses. Palm has licensed the Microsoft Windows Mobile operating system for an expanded line of Treo Smartphones, the first of which will be available on Verizon Wirelessâ(TM) national wireless broadband network."

        What happened? Palm shipped a few Windows Mobile, famously dismissing Appleâ(TM)s potential entry as something "PC guys" could never achieve. A new CEO, a private placement and an acquisition later the company is a division of HP making its own operating system.

        Nortel. When Steve Ballmer was famously laughing at the iPhone and saying that he likes the Windows Mobile strategy "a lot" he was sitting next to the then-CEO of Nortel (Mike Zafirovski formerly of Motorola) with whom the company had just closed a strategic deal. "an alliance between Microsoft and Nortel announced in July 2006 ⦠includes three new joint solutions to dramatically improve business communications by breaking down the barriers between voice, e-mail, instant messaging, multimedia conferencing and other forms of communication".

        What happened? Nortel declared bankruptcy two years later.

        Verizon. In January 2009 "Verizon Wireless has selected Microsoft Corp. to provide portal, local and Internet search as well as mobile advertising services to customers on its devices. The five-year agreement will go into effect in the first half of 2009 when Microsoft Live Search is targeted to be available on new Verizon Wireless feature phones and smartphones." The deal would ensure Bing distribution to all of Verizonâ(TM)s smartphone customers.

        What happened? Bing did ship on some devices but in October 2009 Droid came to Verizon.

        Ericsson. In September 2000, "Ericsson and Microsoft Corp. today launched Ericsson Microsoft Mobile Venture AB. This previously announced joint company will drive the mobile Internet by developing and marketing mobile e-mail solutions for operators. The first solutions are expected to be on the market by the end of the year. The company is part of a broader strategic alliance between Ericsson and Microsoft"

        What happened? Ericsson divested itself of the mobile division forming a joint venture which would go on and make more strategic alliances with Microsoft over Windows Mobile culminating in a loss of profits and eventual flight to Android.

        Sendo. In February

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 21, 2012 @05:00PM (#40403803)

    they outsource manufacturing.. and in a lot of cases, even the design and development is outsourced... the "company" that sells whatever it is just slaps their name on it.

    the largest electronics manufacturer in the world does not have a household name (except for when they make the news for employer-employee issues). it sells very few products at retail of its own. they are the lowest bidder that makes products for other companies.

    apple is a software and design house. they outsource manufacturing. they basically exploit the cheap asian labor of foxconn. foxconn and apple have roughly the same gross revenues, but apple's net is over 10 times higher. foxconn has over a million employees while apple 'only' has about 60k. foxconn net revenue per employee is about $2,200.. apple's is over $425,000.

    • > the largest electronics manufacturer in the world does not have a household name

      I presume you are talking about Foxconn? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foxconn) Ah, thanks for the dollar figures between them and Apple.

      Sad to see how at one time Americans took pride in quality and "Made in America"; now they just wanted the cheapest quantity possible. :-/

      --
      "The Big Bang is our modern scientific creation myth. It comes from the same human need to solve the cosmological riddle [Where did the universe co

      • Sad to see how at one time Americans took pride in quality and "Made in America"; now they just wanted the cheapest quantity possible. :-/

        It's worse than that and it's not even Foxconn we should be worried about. We have not been able to even make our own parts for some time now. A decade or two ago, an American firm tried to make a "made in USA" VCR. Surprise, they found out that nobody in the US made the parts needed to go in them (heads and some other parts IIRC). They tried to buy them from Asia where they are all made and were refused. They were able to finally get them by taking the companies to court with anti-trust laws and winning. C

    • companies don't "make" stuff anymore they outsource manufacturing..

      To whom? Magical manufacturing pixies?

      The companies that do the outsourcing outsource to, guess what, companies that do manufacturing. It is true that very frequently the companies that specialize in branding products and marketing them to consumers aren't the same companies that specialize in manufacturing the products, but it is very much not the case that companies don't make stuff anymore.

  • by nomorecwrd (1193329) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @05:14PM (#40403953)
    Microsoft is an excellent hardware manufacturer

    Their keyboards an joysticks are the best (mid-range) hardware I've come across.
    • And the xbox360 is a textbook case of royally screwing the pooch hardware design-wise. It took MULTIPLE revisions to tame the 360 into an acceptable piece of hardware
      • by erroneus (253617)

        SOP for Microsoft. Version 1 is for early adopters. Version 2 is "kind of okay" Version 3 is "better" and Version 4 is to be avoided like the plague. Version 5 is "we're sorry, let's be more like version 3." Version 6? Often the end of the development line where they either perfected it or screwed it up so bad no one wants it any longer.

        • I'm pretty sure Version 6 is "God, no! Help me, please! I don't deserve this kind of punishment!", judging by Windows ME, if you consider every iteration of 9x (except 98SE) to be a different OS

      • by exomondo (1725132)
        But then the Zune was an example of getting the hardware and software right but failing monumentally in marketing and timing (as well as lack of differentiation from competitors). All the pieces are there, it's just a matter of getting all the successful pieces into one product.
      • Ok, I'm a Playstation guy, so I didn't thought about the XBox when I wrote this.

        My mind was on accessories like joysticks, etc. Still, my point may stand if you compare the evolution of the XBox with the evolution of Windows.
    • by steelfood (895457)

      Personally, I'm more of a Logitech fan. But Microsoft is pretty good too.

      The more apt comparison would be to the XBox, Zune, and other system hardware. Hardware by itself isn't terribly difficult to get right. Just look at how many companies and mom and pop shops build Windows boxen. Getting the right software and hardware combination, however, is a completely different challenge, and where Apple shines.

      • Actually, the only reason Apple shines is that they limit the scope of their target hardware so much that it becomes an easy job for them to support their product. The Hacintosh could never be more than a nerd's project, because Apple isn't even capable of supporting their own hardware more than a few years on their OS platform.

  • ...they'll have to, when Nokia goes under.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I knew they'd throw the Finn's under the bus, but I didn't know they would do it so soon. Microsoft really is a treacherous business partner.
    I guess it's only taken this long for MS to pick clean all the IP they're after, and build a list of employees to poach.

    I know a lot of people won't agree with what I have to say, but we've seen it before. This is Microsoft's SOP in these sorts of situations. (Plays for sure, anyone?)

  • by Moof123 (1292134) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @05:56PM (#40404481)

    Or Clippy Mobile as a competitor for Siri.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I do hope that Microsoft make's hardware for each area there Operating Systems run.
    1 - Microsoft would actually "own" their brand and products. Microsoft would sell what actually works correctly for their OS and give their brand a positive reflection instead of relying on questionable PC manufacturers who have caused a lot of Microsoft's brand to decay over the years.
    2 - Each sold unit comes with Microsoft's store to upgrade and purchase. This makes the Microsoft eco system viable to others and we all see m

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Johann Lau (1040920)

      questionable PC manufacturers who have caused a lot of Microsoft's brand to decay over the years

      Haha :)

      Oh wait, you're serious... AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

    • by oztiks (921504)

      Yeah, my mind is this. Computing is such these days that a bunch of nerds stuck in a room together can build a $25 computer.

      Microsoft wont get this wrong, its like buying cars these days. Cars used to be have huge gaps in cost of parts, serviceability and quality. Now, it doesn't matter what you buy, its new and its from a good size company it will work for the next 5 years with no issues.

      Computers and the hardware have become much the same. People betting MS will get it wrong are looking at the past and ju

  • They could play off nostalgia and make the default screen color blue.
  • by guidryp (702488) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @07:41PM (#40405581)

    There seems to be one thing worse than being Microsoft's enemy. That is being their partner.

    1: Elop takes over, and Osbournes them by announcing the switch to Windows Phone with no Windows Phone actually coming anytime soon.
    2: Microsoft announces that Win8 will have a new Kernel and that currently for sale phones (Nokia Phones) won't be upgrading to new kernel, thus killing desire for current Nokia phones.
    3: Microsoft starts making it's own Windows phones.

    Step 3 is hypothetical at this point, but looks like it might be enough to kill already weakened Nokia.

  • by Tough Love (215404) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @08:36PM (#40406117)

    "First they laugh at you. Then you fail. Then they laugh at you again."

  • No. They'll just get their ass handed to them by Apple and Google. They sell into an extremely price-conscious segment of the market. Apple sells premium products to people who have the cash (and even then, Microsoft can't compete with them on price because it doesn't benefit from being the largest component purchaser in the world like Apple). Google gives their products away to then in turn sell eyeballs to advertisers. When they buy Motorola, assuming they keep the hardware business, they can still sell t

    • by espiesp (1251084)

      If they are smart, they will subsidize it with Windows and Office. Last I checked Microsoft wasn't exactly broke...

    • Microsoft can 'subsidize' their product with Corporate data-center integration.

      Do you seriously think businesses want to give their employees smartphones that they can download games onto from App Stores. If Microsoft finally does it right and integrates their business apps (Office, Exchange, etc.) it won't matter what other smartphone vendors offer. Corporate IT will tell people what they are getting. And when said people realize how well their Outlook works, they'll be satisfied.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        The employees will want to carry two devices?

        If email is the only thing the device will support, why bother with a smartphone at all? There are feature phones that have that, or at least there were in the past.

        These days BYOD is huge, companies don't want to pay for, support and insure/replace all these devices.

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