Friday, June 22, 2012

An analyst says Microsoft may be building its own phone. Microsoft says “not so much.”
How did we get here? Let’s just say: Microsoft started it.

This week, Microsoft did the unthinkable: It struck out on its own and introduced Microsoft-designed and -built tablet hardware, the Surface. It was a move that surprised many (including some Windows PC hardware partners), and got people speculating about Microsoft’s other big move this week: unveiling Windows Phone 8.

This mobile OS overhaul will eventually come to partner devices from Nokia, Samsung, HTC Corp and Huawei.

Still, Nomura analyst Rick Sherlund’s assertion that Microsoft is busily lining up contractors to build its own hardware is not unreasonable in light of recent events. It’s just that there’s no indication it’s true.

Look at how the handset maker reacted to the fact that its newest hardware, the lovely large-screen Nokia Lumia 900, is not eligible for the Windows Phone 8 upgrade. It happily embraced the Windows Mobile tributary OS Windows Phone 7.8 for its current devices and will just as eagerly build new Windows Phone 8 devices.

Nokia’s not mad. Why? For one, it gets Microsoft’s strategy; and two, well, it does not want to upset Microsoft.

Nokia is clearly committed to Windows Phone. And yet, as soon as Sherlund wrote clients, according to Reuters, that “Our industry sources tell us that Microsoft may be working with a contract manufacturer to develop their own handset for Windows Phone 8,” the rumor mill was in full swing.

Pretty soon, headlines went from saying Microsoft was considering building its own handset hardware to it was probably doing so. 
“That’s where we’re focused right now. Nokia, HTC, Samsung, Huwaei, Windows Phone 8 this year we’re stoked.”

Now if you’re parsing words, the “right now” qualifier in there could leave the door open for a change in strategy down the road. But that would be a possibility whether Sherlund said it was imminent or not. Certainly, Microsoft’s recent activities with the Microsoft Surface tablet prove that.