You'll remember that (pictured above) Satya Nadella said:
We’ll bring business customers the best management, security and productivity experiences they need; value phone buyers the communications services they want; and Windows fans the flagship devices they’ll love.
Now, this is a somewhat controversial view, but the above sentence could be taken to mean that both business and budget users get services and software, while just 'Windows fans' get 'devices'. After all, Microsoft has put a lot of effort into getting its services (think OneDrive, Outlook and even Cortana) onto multiple platforms, so why put money into the low and mid-tier phone markets, where cheap Android phones dominate, any of which can be used with Microsoft's new first party services and applications for Android?
I reported yesterday on the 6th October event, pointing out that we're only expecting (on the phone front) the Lumia 950 and 950 XL. Could it be that the 640 and 640 XL, launched in the Spring, a full six months ago, were the last significant budget Lumias... ever?
The linked Q&A quote from Chris Capossela, the Chief Marketing Officer at Microsoft, throws more light onto the situation:
We're going to build phones for our Windows fans. If you love Windows 10, if you love your Windows 10 tablet, or Surface, or laptop, we want to have a beautiful phone for you, something you'd be incredibly proud of that's going to have the same experience across your devices, the same apps will run on the phone as run on your Windows 10 laptop or tablet. And it's going to feel incredibly natural. And we really think the Windows fans really want a wonderful Windows Phone that will be a premium flagship phone
We're also going to build phones for businesses. We know business customers want a very, very secure phone that's incredibly good at calendar management, at e-mail, at productivity, and Skype for Business, et cetera. And so we think those two segments are segments we can focus on and build a much, much better solution and much better business than we have today
Which sounds extraordinarily like just the Lumia 950 and 950 XL, plus (at some point in 2016) the rumoured all metal 'Surface' phone, with similar internals but built to match the Surface Pro 3 and 4. And nothing else at all.
A little drastic? From a very budget-heavy approach to nothing at all? Now that, to use Chris's words is "massively retrenched":
Yeah, we've definitely retrenched. I wouldn't say we've modestly, we've massively retrenched. And I think that's appropriate for where we are. For us in the next couple of years we're really going to focus on building phones that obviously showcase Windows 10...
Not that the budget and even mid-tiers were that interesting to AAWP readers, who will be enthusiasts and mainly using the higher end devices, of course. But for the industry and ecosystem as a whole, this refocussing of Microsoft's ambitions is very significant indeed.
As I read it, the low end of the market will be left wide open to other manufacturers (think Yezz, Acer and a host of others across the world), while Microsoft provides the flagship hardware and experience.
Comments welcome. Am I wrong? Do you think there will be new sub-£300 Lumias from Microsoft?
PS. Well, there we go, bloomin' typical, no sooner had this article gone 'to press' than WinFuture unearths information on one budget handset, a prospective Snapdragon 210-powered Lumia 550. Will this make it to market, and if so, will it be in 2015?