In an interview with The Australian Financial Review last year, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) CEO Satya Nadella revealed that the company would not make a comeback into the smartphone market just to compete with iPhone maker Apple and electronics giant Samsung. According to Nadella, Msoft’s focus was on other products, in particular, cloud computing; its line of Surface computers; the Xbox Box One console; and HoloLens, their mixed reality headset. And in fact, the company appeared to be on the right path, as revealed by the impressive sales of their products, the increase in their market share and the subsequent rise in the value of their stock price.
In Mr. Nadella’s view, Microsoft owed its success to the practice of focusing on aspects that they believe they can do differently compared with rival tech firms, and the culture of not being afraid to fail.
He said: “The key in any momentum we have is that you have to have some amount of boldness in taking risk, and knowing that you are not always going to get it right.”
Nadella cited the Surface as an example, pinpointing the fact that when it was released 3 years ago, people questioned the need for having a gadget in a two-in-one form. Years later, even their fiercest competitors have admitted that it was an idea worth pursuing.
In spite of Nadella’s previous revelations, rumors that Microsoft was working on a new line of phones still persisted. Especially after Nadella said that they would ‘continue to be in the phone market’. More importantly, he was quoted as saying that Microsoft was not going to be ‘defined by today’s market leaders’. Rather, the company would focus on the needs of a ‘specific set of customers’, doing what only they can do, on what will be the ‘most ultimate mobile device’. It sure sounds like a promise of things to come, doesn’t it?
More recently, in an interview for Marketplace’s make me smart, Nadella hinted that Microsoft was looking into making phones that won’t look anything like the traditional phones we have today.
“[W]hen you say we’ll make more phones, I’m sure we’ll make more phones, but they will not look like phones that are there today,” Nadella said while refusing to provide more specifics about the upcoming surprise. This strategy is a bit reminiscent of what Microsoft did with their Surface 2-in-1 laptops — a major reinvention in the making!
Nadella also said that they have selected specific areas of focus, specifically, management; security; and Continuum — supposedly a ‘phone that can even be a desktop’.
This supports what Microsoft’s CMO Chris Capossella said in another podcast interview, where he discussed something about a Windows 10-based ‘breakthrough’ Surface branded phone. Just the use of the word ‘breakthrough’ is enough of a hint. It’s just something you don’t use lightly.
Like the Surface Laptop that we recently got introduced to which we’re sure many people (even the non-Microsoft fans) can’t help but be amazed at (at least as a first impression), we’re really hoping the software giant makes good on its word. Hopefully, when their new phone comes out, the wait will be well worth it.