Las Vegas, Nevada – As rumors emerge of a Microsoft Surface Phone, I’m willing to place a bet that Microsoft gets into the Internet of Things hardware (IoT) at some point in time. But first I want my Surface Pro 4 already.
There’s a leaked image published in Windows Mobile Power User (WMPU) showing a phone screen snapshot from a “Juggernaut Alpha” Surface phone. The phone will purportedly have a 5.5-inch AMOLED screen, an Intel Atom processor, 21 MP back camera and a 8MP wide angle front camera, between 3GB to 4GB of RAM depending on the model—odd choice there, shouldn’t have copied Apple and just stuck with 4GB for a single model—Windows 10 Mobile, flash options of 64GB and 128GB with a MicroSD slot to add up to 256GB (!!!) of storage, USB-C, a Surface Pen, wireless charging, and an Aluminum and Magnesium “unibody.”
Earlier this year, I speculated Microsoft wouldn’t build a “phone” as much as a computer that just happened to fit in your pocket. With 4 GB of RAM, Intel Atom processor, and lots of storage, the Surface “phone” has specs that put it in the same category as an entry-level laptop. Drop this into a wireless charging station or a USB-C docking station to connect an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse—or not, if the mystery devices supports 60 GHz WiGig—and you have a Millennial entry-level computer.
An argument could be made, if the price is right and the performance reasonable, that you don’t need to buy a laptop AND a phone for the kids anymore. Just buy a phone, plus a docking station. We’re already dancing in the Post-PC world and the Surface Phone clearly shifts the discussion further away from traditional hardware.
My wish for the Surface Pro 4 is for it to be the first truly wireless Surface—wireless charging and WiGig high-speed wireless connectivity. The Surface Phone may beat or come in parallel with the Surface Pro 4, but I hope that the 4 comes soon as my laptop is getting heavy and my desktop disk drive is on its last legs.
Clear the deck a bit beyond consumer devices. Microsoft has a history of building inexpensive hardware under its brand, specifically keyboards and mice. It is not a great leap of faith that Microsoft could build hardware to splice into all the cloud and Windows 10 IoT goodness. Intel yesterday was talking about how it works with Windows 10 and has a “smart gateway” available. The chip manufacturer will build devices when it needs to, but it much prefers to be at the supplier level, letting others taking its silicon and putting it into devices.
My prediction is sometime next year we’ll see Microsoft introduce some basic IoT devices to be used by enterprise companies and VARs as building blocks for solutions that link to Azure cloud services. The company already runs IoT solutions for a number of companies on Azure, but it would love to have a cleaner end-to-end solution. It wouldn’t have to make a profit on IoT devices, but just break even, since the real profits are in cloud services and monthly recurring revenues.
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