Goodbye to Lumia, hello to Surface Phone?
Microsoft hasn't announced anything official, but a report on WinBeta claiming that the company plans to stop selling its largely overlooked smartphones has the tech world buzzing that a new mobile device may be in the works.
The WinBeta report cites an anonymous Microsoft employee who says the company will simply stop selling Lumia phones by this December. Microsoft declined comment to WinBeta, telling the site that there's "nothing to share" about the Lumia's future.
Confirmed or not, it would hardly be surprising to see Microsoft pull the plug on the Lumia brand, given the downward spiral Lumia devices have found themselves in since Microsoft's multibillion-dollar purchase of Nokia's phone and services division in 2013. Microsoft has since written off that acquisition as a loss and eliminated thousands of jobs in its smartphone business.
These days, Microsoft sells just a handfull of Lumia devices and hasn't introduced any new phones this year. Lumia wasn't even mentioned during the keynote at the company's developer conference in March. At that event, Microsoft executive vice president Terry Myerson told The Verge that Windows Phone wouldn't be a focus for the company this year.
In a way, it's a shame. I've always appreciated the Tiles-based approach of Windows Phone and the emphasis Lumia devices placed on the camera. Other capabilities, like the Continuum feature that turns your Lumia 950 into a portable PC, have also been impressive.
What hasn't impressed me, though, is the paucity of apps, as software developers have largely ignored Windows Phone for Android and iOS. As a result, consumers have shown little interest in Microsoft's phones.
Ending Lumia sales could be the first step in Microsoft's attempt to turn that around. The same reports that have Microsoft shuttering Lumia also say the company could be getting ready to debut its long-rumored Surface Phone, which would try to translate Microsoft's success with tablets to the smartphone world.
Microsoft has hinted at a Surface Phone before, describing it as a kind of hybrid device that would blend mobility with the ability to be your primary computer when you're at a desk. WinBeta notes that Microsoft has dropped further hints teasing a Surface Phone in a pair of since-deleted tweets from the company's director of engineering.
We could find out about Microsoft's phone plans sooner rather than later. Microsoft is rumored to be planning an event later this fall, where it could announce new products — ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley speculates that it could be a Surface all-in-one. Maybe Microsoft will use that venue to make its mobile plans more transparent.
This post has been updated to correct a reference to a rumored Microsoft event this fall.