I have an idea for Microsoft: get back in the mobile phone business. Before you call me crazy, hear me out. There’s a huge market of people out there who would love a single device to rule them all. In fact, I’d argue it’s exactly the mobile-first world we have all been waiting for and Microsoft is the perfect company to do it.
For years, we’ve been talking about eliminating the need for multiple devices, especially as mobile devices continue to get more and more powerful. As of right this second you can buy a smartphone with 12-16GB ram, an 8-core CPU, and a 1TB SSD. That’s literally a equivalent to (or better than) many laptop/desktop computers.
Here’s the thing though: Apple won’t offer anything like what I’m describing because they’re very happy selling you a family of devices (iPhone, iPad, Watch, Mac). And I think that this mentality has been proven, if Apple were interested in doing this, they would have done it a long time ago. Meanwhile, Samsung is trying to do this with Dex and its Galaxy line of smartphones but the main problem is Android isn’t a full-scale desktop operating system and while this setup (seen in the video below) is cool, it’s super clunky and no normal user would ever do it.
An all-in-one Windows 10 device
Think about it: a Windows 10-based smartphone (remember, Windows 10 can run on ARM devices) designed by the Surface team, that has great design, looks sleek, and starts selling for $1,200-$1,300 — this pricing is extremely competitive amongst other premium smartphones and it will allow people to consolidate their devices.
You buy the Microsoft Smartphone (go with me on the naming for now, I’m not being paid for the marketing) and you also buy a dock for an additional $200-$300. Now you have a smartphone and full-on desktop computer (running Windows 10) in one device. That’s appealing, even to me, a huge Apple fan. In fact, I think it’s so appealing I’d definitely have to give it a fair shot. It could potentially win me back over to Microsoft.
Imagine being at your desk, you have your Microsoft Smartphone docked, your working in Office365 and now it’s time to head to a meeting, you undock your device, put it in your pocket and go on your way. You can keep editing the presentation on the go or wait til you get back to your desk. It doesn’t matter. Everything you’re working on is on that device and in the cloud.
In addition to being able to dock to a monitor, mouse, and keyboard, I’m thinking Microsoft could even sell laptop-like enclosures with a screen, keyboard, trackpad, etc which you just place your phone in and everything turns on. How awesome would that be?
Not only would it be great for consumers who are looking for a single computing device, it will also help Microsoft expand their reach of products and services which is exactly what they are trying to do with the existing Windows install base — because face it, most people just use the defaults (e.g. Microsoft Edge, Bing, OneDrive, etc). And more people using Microsoft services through an expanded device footprint means more service revenue as well.
The fact Bing is still around is proof that being the default (browser, search engine, etc) is crucial to the success and survival of companies like Microsoft, including Google, which pays Apple a hefty sum to remain the default search engine on iOS. The same argument can be made for why Microsoft adopted Chromium (which is what Google Chrome is based on) for the most recent version of Edge–they want to keep people using it. If the default browser feels similar/familiar they won’t change it.
Introducing a product like this could fundamentally change the game for Microsoft by further expanding the Windows footprint and thereby making them a dominant force in tech (similar to where they were in the late 90s and early 2000s). There is no doubt Microsoft got it wrong in its first foray into mobile, but now, with years of building Surfaces under their belt, a solid operating system in Windows 10, and the right marketing approach, I truly think this could give everyone else a run for their money.
What do you think? Let me know down in the comments.