Skip to main content

Microsoft CEO says the company's next smartphone will be incredibly futuristic

Bill Roberson/Digital Trends
Microsoft’s next phone may not look like a phone. That is according to company CEO Satya Nadella, who sat down with Marketplace’s “Make Me Smart” for a lengthy interview about Microsoft’s new education platforms.

“We make phones today, we have OEMs like HP making phones and others and we picked a very specific area to focus on which is management, security, and this one particular feature that we have called Continuum, which is a phone that can even be a desktop,” Nadella explained. “So when you say, ‘When will we make more phones,’ I’m sure we’ll make more phones. But they may not look like phones that are there today.”

Despite Microsoft’s best efforts to prop up its sagging Windows Phone business, it has not had much success. In 2014, the firm acquired Finnish company Nokia for $9.5 billion but was forced to lay off 18,000 employees when phone sales failed to turn around.

Things worsened from there. In 2015, phone development costs exceeded revenue by $4 billion during the first fiscal quarter — a loss of about 12 cents per phone. Microsoft subsequently wrote down $7.6 billion in costs and slashed 7,800 jobs.

Microsoft Lumia 650

It then tried a two-tier approach to the market: Budget and high-end devices. It launched affordable phones like the Lumia 215 ($29) alongside premium handsets like the Cityman, which boasted a QHD (2,560 x 1,440 pixels) screen, a 20-megapixel camera, and a triple-LED flash.

Despite the new strategy, Microsoft’s hardware still struggled to gain a foothold against competitors like Google, Samsung, and Apple. Its global share of the smartphone market hovered around two percent and analysts at IDC report that Microsoft sold a mere 4.5 million Nokia Lumia devices in the fourth quarter of 2015 — a 57 percent dip between 2011 and 2015.

In May 2016, Microsoft effectively washed its hands of Nokia’s hardware business, signing its manufacturing facilities, brand, and digital services to holding company HMD Global.

But rumors of a new phone persist. The so-called Surface Phone is said to come in three models — a consumer model, a business model, and an “enthusiast” model — and ship running Redstone 3, an upcoming version of Windows Phone with native support for Win32 apps like Google’s Chrome browser and Adobe Photoshop.

“We need more breakthrough work … with Surface we had a bunch of early misfires, but that notion of a tablet that could replace your laptop — that notion of saying, ‘Hey, Apple wants to sell you an iPad and they want to sell you a Mac,’ we think there’s one device that exploits the seam between those two devices — we need some sort of spiritual equivalent on the phone side that doesn’t just feel like a phone for people who love Windows,” Microsoft’s Chief Marketing Officer Chris Capossela said on This Week in Tech’s Windows Weekly podcast in December 2015.

“It has got to be a phone that’s sort of like, ‘Wow, that’s a shocker,” or, ‘That’s a real breakthrough,’ and has got to make me pause before I buy my 17th iPhone, and we need time to actually go through that.”

Editors' Recommendations

6 years later, the iPhone X still does one thing better than the iPhone 14 Pro
iPhone X.

I’ve been an iPhone user since the very beginning, starting with the original iPhone. You know, the one with the 3.5-inch display that was perfect at the time, making it super easy to use a phone with one hand? As the years go by, the iPhone — and every other smartphone out there — just get bigger and bigger. We now have phones that with almost 7-inch displays, and honestly, I don’t understand how anyone can comfortably use these giant phones — especially if you have smaller hands!

With the iPhone, we’ve gone from 3.5-inch to 4-inches, then 4.7-inches to 5.8-inches, and now the standard 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch of the iPhone 14/iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Plus/iPhone 14 Pro Max, respectively. I personally use an iPhone 14 Pro as my primary device, and while I have gotten used to the 6.1-inch size over the past few years, I still think it’s too big. In fact, the last perfect size iPhone was the iPhone XS with the 5.8-inch display ... and I really wish Apple would bring it back.
5.8 inches was a perfect middle ground

Read more
Google Pixel 8: all the latest rumors and what we want to see
Google Pixel 8 leaked render.

The Google Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro are on their way. Google's fallen in a pretty reliable release pattern for Pixel phones, meaning we can safely expect a new lineup of flagship Pixels each year. In 2023, that means the Pixel 8 and 8 Pro.

The Google Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro are two excellent devices -- possibly two of the best smartphones Google has ever made. But while they have some serious strengths, a number of problems and missed opportunities drag both phones down. This wouldn't be a problem if the competition was standing still, but it's not. The Apple iPhone 14 Pro refreshed the iPhone design for the first time in years, and the recently released Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is quite possibly one of the best smartphones ever created. So what's a humble Pixel to do?

Read more
Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2 is big news for cheap phones
Hand holding up a smartphone against a city background with Qualcomm Snapdragon7+ Gen 2 logo.

Qualcomm has taken the wraps off its Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2, the next generation of its midrange mobile platform. The new chip is designed to deliver powerful entertainment experiences and performance gains to a broader range of smartphones.

The new platform is an evolution of last year’s Snapdragon 7 Gen 1, which was already a leap beyond the older Snapdragon 700 series it replaced. It began closing the gap with the premium Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 — a trend that continues with this year’s Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2.

Read more