1. Arun3's Avatar
    Disclaimer: Long read. Therefore, get a cup of coffee or snacks, before you continue along.

    There have been whispers in the tech world of Microsoft releasing a phone of "Surface quality" for several months, rather, years. A few days ago, Mr. Daniel Rubino wrote an article that gave hope to thousands of Windows phone enthusiasts on the continued existence of a phone that is in development by the Surface team at Microsoft, now headed by Panos Panay. He concluded that it would be logical to expect a Surface phone in the second quarter or Fall 2016. This piece of news, also reported in other tech sites gathered great enthusiastic comments from the Windows phone community. There is no denying the fact that the Surface range of products, beginning with the ill-fated Surface RT to the recently released, well accepted, high-end Surface Book, screams quality and perfection. Microsoft has continually refined this elite class of design accomplishment over the years, which Apple alone could boast of, until then. . A cursory glance at Apple's iPad Pro and Google's Pixel is a testament to where the inspiration for those devices came from- the Surface line, of course. A mobile phone of the same quality, from the same team, that pushes boundaries, is something that is sure to make the eyes turn, hairs raise. But here's the question, will it be enough to push Windows 10 on Mobile to take off?

    Let us first examine the word "mobile". Mobile, until about a few years ago, was synonymous with cell- phones. Mobile to the large population of general public still means a cell-phone. But when it comes to the new Microsoft, under the able leadership of Satya Nadella, mobile has multiple meanings. In addition to the above, according to him, Mobile is the "mobility in experience". In other words, how seamlessly you can move across multiple devices/platforms with the experience of the same service working on all of them. His version of mobile could be very well be the next evolution of mobile computing, which is device or platform agnostic, but service centric. With this new vision, Microsoft has made their services available on other platforms.

    Now where does Surface Phone come in this picture? Windows 10 on Mobile is currently in a bad shape, to be bluntly put. The devices running them are nothing short of great! People became aware of the Microsoft's mobile platform, largely due to Nokia and their well-crafted, colorful, polycarbonate Lumias with impressive imaging experiences. Then fast forward a few years to 2015, that is still where we are at: great looking phones with a unique interface and awesome imaging capabilities. Regarding imaging, the others have pretty much caught up, leaving us with a great phone with a unique interface. There is no denying the fact that App-gap is terrible. People are adequately aware of the existence of Windows phones, but the adoption rate is still abysmally low.

    Continuum: the killer feature of future Windows phones?

    The new breed of Lumias come with Continuum, which makes a mobile phone work as a PC, now only restricted to few apps. This is a brilliant strategy when it comes to developing countries where, to a common man mobile phones would be the only computing device. The point being, unless Continuum trickles down to low-end devices, this feature is of not much use to the existing customers. A current customer who can afford to buy a flagship L950/XL will most probably have other computing devices such as a desktop/laptop and a tablet. Therefore, the case where he uses phone as the only computing device is quite rare. Continuum is an excellent feature to have, but it cannot solely be what defines Microsoft's flagship phone, while basic needs of a common user, namely the apps, is lacking. Microsoft cannot simply make a killer hardware device and ask for premium pricing, citing Continuum or anything else as the distinctive feature.

    It is hard to argue for a customer to spend his hard earned $$$ for a phone (even if it is as powerful as a PC) if s/he can't use it for simple things like Snapchat and a feature-par Facebook experience. The user is not going to use his/her phone as a continuum device to access Facebook via a browser every time one needs to see a friend’s post or post about the vacation. This defeats the purpose of a smart phone, the true mobility (the act of moving from one place to another) experience that comes with it.

    Comparison to Surfaces

    The lack of apps in Windows 10 on a form factor such as a laptop or a desktop is excusable (see the app explosion on iOS vs OSX). In fact it is totally fine if it lacks an app for Facebook (say in this case) as the user can easily access their web counterparts via a browser. This case is even fine on a 10 inch tablet. But, when the form factor gets smaller, when the touch interface become primary mode of interaction, the apps become crucial. Hence the awesome experience of Windows 10 on a desktop, laptop and even Surfaces, where the user has easy access to feature-rich websites via browser, but not the same in case of phones. Also, no one wants to run legacy apps on a small screen aka smartphone/phablet.

    untitled.jpg

    At the end of the day, in the case of Surface phone that demands a flagship status, if the user still has to choose between Continuum and other new features, over the presence of apps and apps that get updated frequently (seen in iOS and Android counterparts), then Microsoft's strategy is flawed; they have failed in meeting the basic demands of a smartphone user. Except may be for the die-hard enthusiasts.

    What are your thoughts on the matter? Let us discuss.. :)
    Last edited by Arun3; 12-03-2015 at 05:10 PM.
    12-03-2015 04:07 PM
  2. tanders04#WN's Avatar
    I think that is a much more pragmatic view of the "surface phone" than most people here have.

    The short answer is no. I think you just have to look at the surface line up to know that one phone isn't going to save the day. I think more than any other platform (iOS and android both experience this to different degrees) all of this "surface phone" talk is actually doing more harm than good right now. How many people are holding off on a 950 or 950xl (and even likely the next crop) to wait for a phone that a) may well never come and b) is bound to disappoint when it doesn't live up to whatever crazy expectation people have in their head.

    That said, if you see something truly innovative come out of Redmond, they just may have a shot, because like the surface, they'll be in a class all by themselves until the others catch up. They're not going to get the time they need if they just start selling a smaller surface. It really would have to be the phone that can replace your _____ (which is another problem right there). I have no idea what that would be, and I've yet to see a realistic idea around here that I think would do it.
    Arun3 likes this.
    12-03-2015 04:41 PM
  3. Arun3's Avatar
    I think that is a much more pragmatic view of the "surface phone" than most people here have.

    The short answer is no. I think you just have to look at the surface line up to know that one phone isn't going to save the day. I think more than any other platform (iOS and android both experience this to different degrees) all of this "surface phone" talk is actually doing more harm than good right now. How many people are holding off on a 950 or 950xl (and even likely the next crop) to wait for a phone that a) may well never come and b) is bound to disappoint when it doesn't live up to whatever crazy expectation people have in their head.

    That said, if you see something truly innovative come out of Redmond, they just may have a shot, because like the surface, they'll be in a class all by themselves until the others catch up. They're not going to get the time they need if they just start selling a smaller surface. It really would have to be the phone that can replace your _____ (which is another problem right there). I have no idea what that would be, and I've yet to see a realistic idea around here that I think would do it.
    Agree. Regarding people holding off on L950/XL in expectations of a Surface phone; I am one of them, but with ample caution. The only reason I am holding off is because of the price. If the L950 was priced around $400, I would have given it a second thought. $600 is too steep a price for a phone that has beta versions of Windows Hello and Continuum, in my opinion. Since I broke my L925 two months ago, I have been using my old iPhone 4S and it is quite surprising to see how useful certain app choices (Todaytix, Sonos, Facebook) are, if and when you need to use them. I also get to use Groove, Office lens and other MS apps. It's a win-win on a 4-year old phone! Can you believe it!

    Regarding what they are going to spin the Surface phone to be, is something I am quite looking forward to....
    12-03-2015 05:41 PM

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