Surface Phone: How Microsoft Could Avoid Another Catastrophic Failure [Opinion]

It is no secret that Microsoft has been struggling in the mobile phone market. Over the last few years, the Redmond-based tech giant has tried numerous strategies in order to break through the elusive mobile barrier. Despite its best efforts, however, Microsoft has so far been unsuccessful. Now, with rumors of a Surface Phone being released in the foreseeable future, is there really a way for Microsoft to finally make it to one of the top spots in the smartphone industry?

In a lot of ways, the answer is a resounding yes. Microsoft’s failure in the mobile industry is, after all, not for lack of trying. Its purchase and subsequent release of the Nokia brand is a concrete example of the firm’s issues with regards to its mobile devices. With the Surface Phone, however, Microsoft would be giving itself a second chance — an opportunity to break through the ranks of the smartphone market with a device that is created on its own terms, with its own design.

The Surface series has been widely successful because Microsoft took a lot of risks. The first Surface 2-in-1 hybrid was given a lukewarm reception by critics and users at best, but Microsoft did not give up. Instead, it opted to keep pursuing the concept of the device until it perfected it, resulting in the release of the critically and commercially-acclaimed Surface 4 Pro, which remains as one of the best hybrid devices in the market more than a year since its launch.

With the Surface Phone, however, Microsoft would need to learn from its missteps in the past. First off, the tech giant must make sure it markets the device aggressively. Over the years, the fall of Windows Mobile devices could be correlated directly with Microsoft’s seeming disinterest in marketing its smartphones, as stated in a Windows Central report. Overall, the combination of unbalanced hardware and software and substandard marketing ultimately caused the market share of Windows Mobile devices to reach alarming levels.

If and when it launches the Surface Phone, Microsoft should ensure that it pushes the device like never before. In this regard, things appear to be very encouraging, as Microsoft’s advertisements for its flagship products such as the Surface Studio seem to be heralding the Redmond-based tech giant’s rekindling of its dedication to effective and aggressive marketing.

Marketing is not all, however, as Microsoft would also be wise to invest in ensuring that the Surface Phone would be fully compatible with its other devices and platforms. Windows, after all, pretty much dominates the desktop space. If Microsoft could ensure that the Surface Phone runs desktop-grade applications, it would be making the device as the gold standard in productivity. Doing so would all but guarantee the support of the business sector, and this alone could propel the Surface Phone into one of the top spots in the mobile market.

Compatible Windows 10 applications would make the Surface Phone into one of the world's most formidable enterprise-grade smartphones.

Applications have always been one of the weaknesses of Windows Mobile devices. The Lumia 950 and 950 XL were the most formidable smartphones that Microsoft has ever released, but the devices themselves became massive failures. The reason? The apps for the flagships were far too few compared to their competitors running Android and iOS. Currently, there is really no way for Microsoft to catch up to iOS or Android regarding the number of supported mobile apps, but the Redmond-based tech giant actually has an ace up its sleeve — its plethora of desktop-grade applications that are used by the majority of PC users worldwide. If Microsoft taps into this, the Surface Phone would unquestionably be a game-changer.

Lastly, the Surface Phone would also need to be distinctly different from the billions of other smartphones currently on the market. This means that the device must not only run on an entirely different level from its rivals, it must also be immediately distinguishable from the rest of the smartphone market. In this respect, it appears that Microsoft is taking things very seriously as well. Recent patents, such as this transformable concept that utilizes a tiered display design, would make the Surface Phone not only unique but a different class of mobile device on its own.

The Surface Phone could very well be Microsoft’s ticket to unbridled success in the mobile market. After all, its Surface brand has, if any, become synonymous with bold innovation. If the tech giant could attain the perfect balance between form and power, Microsoft’s home-grown mobile flagship could very well be the one to finally propel the company into one of the top spots in the smartphone industry.

[Featured Image by Andrew Burton/Getty Images]