Sony could make a pretty great Windows Phone deviceEvan Selleck - Contributing Editor
When Microsoft originally unveiled their new effort Windows Phone, I remember there was quite a bit of support for the company's effort. It made sense, though, considering how much support there had been for the Redmond-based company's previous mobile efforts in Windows Mobile. Companies like HTC, Samsung, ZTE, and Huawei were quick to pledge their services to the fledgling platform, and those companies did as they were supposed to right at the start. But then they all kind of dropped off the map. Even if the companies have released new Windows Phone-based devices in the last couple of years, you probably never really heard about them. HTC has an exemption here, with the release of their Windows Phone 8X, which managed to grab plenty of attention due to its name, and Microsoft's sudden attention to the manufacturer as a whole.
But, while the Windows Phone 8X may have been a bright spot for HTC, it died out quickly, and completely faded out by the time the WP8XT launched. Why? Because Nokia, that's why. That particular company's Lumia lineup practically demolished any and all Windows Phone competition that was out there, and ate up the marketplace, too. The majority of Windows Phone devices out there in customer's hands are Lumia-branded handsets, ranging from the low-end to (Windows Phone) high-end. Nokia's climb has been a steady one, but while they were ascending, we were all watching support from other companies descend at the same pace.
Samsung and HTC, two of the biggest names in the mobile industry in general, have all but stopped support for Microsoft's mobile operating system. Sure, devices like the WP8XT and ATIV S Neo (which turned out surprisingly well, mind you) exist, but they certainly aren't gobbling up the attention from the media. Not like Nokia's Lumia 1020. And neither company is trying to market those devices, either. Which isn't all that surprising.
As we move into 2014, there's going to be one thing missing from the big pictures when it comes to Windows Phone. Nokia's Devices & Services division is in the process of being acquired by Microsoft, which means after a few more devices find their way to market (probably enough to launch Windows Phone 8.1, before they're gone for good), that'll be the end of Nokia's reign. While Microsoft will be picking up the slack, eventually, it leaves a gap for a company to come in and start creating devices that can actually compete -- instead of just conceding the loss. This would be a perfect time for HTC and Samsung to swoop in, and create something like an HTC One (or its sequel, more likely) or Galaxy S 4 with Windows Phone on board.
That's probably not going to happen. But, if not HTC and Samsung, then who?
I know, right? Random. It's not all that random, though. Sony was a pretty big supporter of Windows Mobile way back in the day, so if the company were to start building devices running Microsoft's new mobile OS, it wouldn't be completely crazy. Based on past efforts only. If you were to look at Sony's current landscape of devices, and even their company-wide goals, you'd probably admit that rumors of Sony creating a Windows Phone device are pretty crazy. Especially if you look back at 2012, when the first rumor of this sort popped up, fizzled out, and eventually revealed a prototype that never made it to market. But, here we are again, with word that Sony could release a Windows Phone-based handset as early as mid-2014.
It's not impossible, but let's get one thing clear: Sony has this goal to bridge the world of its devices, from the PlayStation brand, to the Xperia brand, and everything else in between. It's going to take some time, but that's the effort their working on. To that effort, Sony's still pushing things like PlayStation games for its mobile devices, and that would look pretty strange on a Windows Phone device, wouldn't it? Having a PlayStation Certified Windows Phone may implode the universe.
Sony could be creating a Windows Phone device without putting any PlayStation things on there at all. After all, under the VAIO brand, it would indeed be all Windows . . . If any consumer actually pays any attention to that. I have no doubt that there'd still be plenty of confusion, though.
What's the easiest way to make people look past that? Create a phone that people want. And let's face it, Sony's got a great base to work from with their Xperia Z1. Right out of the gate, if they were to use a Z1 as their reference device, it would show another company giving the camera functionality a big focus on their Windows Phone-based device. Just like Nokia. But, with that ridiculously nice physical design of the Z1, plus that 5-inch 1080p HD panel, 2.2GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM and all the other features, the Z1 would definitely stand out in the Windows Phone device market.
Just call it the Sony Vaio W1. Or, maybe the Sony W1? Because if you throw Vaio in there, I still think people are going to immediately assume a laptop, if they assume anything at all.
I think Sony could make a pretty great Windows Phone device, but that could just be me. Would you consider buying a Z1 if a version of the handset were running Windows Phone? Let me know what you think of these Sony and Microsoft rumors.