Microsoft might be planning to release its own smartphone, if an analyst is to be believed. The claim, which was published in both Forbes and Reuters, was made by Rick Sherlund, an analyst for Nomura. Two weeks ago, this would have sounded absurd. But in the wake of Microsoft’s surprise reveal of the Surface tablets on Monday, it might actually be plausible.
The question of whether or not Microsoft plans to manufacture a Windows Phone to compete against its own partners lies in the reasoning behind the Surface tablets. Throughout Microsoft’s history, the company has often left the hardware manufacturing up to its partners. But with Windows 8, Microsoft decided that it needed a credible competitor to the iPad and – to some extent – the Kindle Fire. At the big unveiling in Los Angeles, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said that the Surface would “prime the pump” for Windows 8 tablets, essentially pushing hardware manufacturers to step it up in the innovation, design, and quality departments. The Surface could very well be designed to simply kick start the next generation of tablet hardware, essentially taking the role of reference hardware which will be sold in a limited capacity and is not intended to truly compete in the market. This theory is supported by the fact that, at this point, Surface tablets will only be sold at Microsoft Stores. On the other hand, Microsoft - fed up with constantly being blamed for its partners’ problems – might actually be interested in getting into the hardware business.