One step closer to a Surface phone

Published: September 3, 2013

Late last night, right as the holiday weekend was coming to an end for a lot of people, Microsoft dropped a bomb. A bomb that we all saw coming, but still managed to make some waves nonetheless. If you were anywhere near Twitter last night around 11:00PM Eastern, then you saw it. "Microsoft buys Nokia's Device & Services Division!" with a lot more exclamation points and plenty of expletives. It was a crazy mess, and yet one we all knew was coming.

Then again, maybe not. Maybe the stalwarts out there who thought Nokia would jump onto the Android ship before folding further into Microsoft's fold were really hoping that would happen. Whatever the case, Nokia's no longer making phones, and Microsoft is now making phones. They've taken the Asha brand, and they've also got their fingers wrapped around the Lumia name as well.

For Microsoft, Asha will help get their roots in developing countries all around the world. It'll be used as a gateway to Windows Phone, essentially, from here on out.. In other places, the Lumia brand will now have Microsoft in front of it, instead of Nokia.

As far as Windows Phone goes, though, let's be honest: nothing much is changing. At least, not right now.

Microsoft is just capitalizing on the traction that Nokia has garnered in the market with Windows Phone, and hoping that they can not only keep it going, but also gain ground with the acquisition. Microsoft wants to be able to make their own phones, and there's nothing wrong with that. It works for Apple, so maybe it'll work for Microsoft. And, hey, it doesn't hurt to have something like the Lumia 9xx (or higher) series to work from, now does it?

Microsoft has also effectively made sense of their "device and services company" slogan they've been tossing around. They've got the Surface tablet out there, sure, but one device isn't really enough to give yourself a label. So, now they can have a Surface Phone, and that Lumia-inspired Windows RT tablet we've been hearing so much about lately is definitely a sure thing now. Again, using the Lumia brand and device design language isn't going to be a bad thing for Microsoft. It's a great place to jump off from.

The truth is, we all saw this coming. Now Microsoft can make a Surface Phone and no one will really complain. A Surface Phone won't change the way that HTC, or Samsung, or any other partner out there for that matter, releases Windows Phone-based devices. They'll still release them whenever they see fit, and continue to focus on other platforms (coughAndroidcough). So, Microsoft did what we all knew they'd (eventually) do -- they just happened to announce it really late at night, at the tail-end of a vacation.

It just doesn't change much right now. It will, maybe in the next year or so, mean we get to see what Microsoft thinks a phone should look like and what kind of specs they think a phone should have. What it doesn't mean, though, is that Windows Phone is suddenly going to start climbing the market share charts. Because even if this is a smart move on Microsoft's part, it doesn't change one simple fact:

Windows Phone still needs apps.

Until Microsoft can figure that out, and until Microsoft realizes that the ball is truly in their hands here, Windows Phone's presence is going to stay pretty level. But, hey, this could mean that Microsoft is putting a huge amount of extra effort into their mobile operating system, and maybe some new announcements towards developers and high-profile apps and games are right around the corner. Now that would be exciting!

But, now I'm curious: what do you think of the news? Is this the right move for Microsoft, or should they have continued to let Nokia do what they were doing? Do you want to see a Surface Phone? Or would you have preferred to have seen a Lumia-branded device running a version of Android? Let me know!

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