by Anton Shilov
10/22/2012 | 10:55 PM
Although Microsoft Corp. denies any plans to release its own-brand smartphones and from many points of view it would harm the market of Windows Phone 8 devices, Stephen Elop, an ex-Microsoft executive who is now chief exec of Nokia, believes that such a product would actually help the market to kick-start its development.
"It is certainly a stimulant to the ecosystem. We are encouraging of HTC and Samsung and Microsoft or whomever to have devices in the market and to be making whatever investments that helps spur the ecosystem on," said Mr. Elop, in response to questions on whether a potential Surface phone would be welcomed or seen as a competitor, reports The Verge web-site.
By contrast, at least some hardware makers did not exactly welcome Microsoft’s own-brand Surface tablets. One of the reasons why Microsoft had to release Surface is to set up a benchmark for Windows RT/8-based slates, something that hardware makers will have to look at and something that will be clearly competitive against products like Apple iPad. Many hardware makers will now have to reconsider their designs in order to make their devices on par with "reference" tablets from Microsoft. From this point of view, Microsoft's move with Surface is completely justified as it will ensure that Windows 8/RT-powered tablets will be rather good. On the other hand, some partners may decide to utilize other operating systems in order not to compete against Microsoft directly.
Reference smartphones from Microsoft only available from the software giant will naturally attract attention of customers. However, after discovering them, customers would unlikely be interested in getting entry-level Windows Phone 8 smartphones from Nokia, Samsung, HTC, Huawei and possibly others, which will keep the platform on the high-end of the market.
In fact, the actual impact of Surface tablets on the market is yet to be determined. Perhaps, until Microsoft realizes it, it will not reveal its own smartphone.