Yesterday I had lunch with a friend who noticed my new iPhone Xs Max. She asked, “How do you like it?” Answer: “Great. Best iPhone ever. Are you going to get one, too?” That’s likely a conversation repeated all over the country, right?
My friend said, “No. I want the new Microsoft Phone. It runs Office. We use Office at work. I have it on my PC at home.” Say what? Microsoft has a new Surface phone? Who knew? So, I dug around on the interwebs and all I could come up with were some rather cool looking artist renderings for an imaginary Microsoft Phone.
And an old Ed Bott Report article from 2016 that just won’t die.
Microsoft bulked up its collection to more than 80 apps. Today, the core Office apps — Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneDrive — are all certified Android hits with more than 500 million downloads each. Outlook and OneNote have notched well over 100 million downloads apiece. These are serious productivity apps, and they are generally rated highly in the Google Play Store.
Wait a minute. That’s not a Microsoft Phone. That’s Microsoft piling on applications for Android users. I get it. Microsoft’s new Surface Phone is just anything that runs Android.
Clever, Microsoft. Clever.
If you can’t beat them at hardware– and Microsoft did not beat anyone at smartphone hardware; except maybe Facebook and Amazon– beat ’em at software. That’s Microsoft’s strength and heritage anyway, right?
Yes, Microsoft has a hardware business. The Surface PC line seems to be doing OK but it’s not exactly selling like Mac hotcakes, up only a few percentage points in the past year (to be fair, the Mac’s sales dropped like a rock); and there are plenty of branded keyboards and mice out there.
Surface Phone? Nope.
As close as Microsoft will get to a smartphone is the software it makes for Android and iPhone, which, to be fair, is decent and priced right. Most of the software titles for Android and iOS are free (other than the annual or monthly subscription fee).
I called my friend with the bad news. She ordered an iPhone XR.
Microsoft may have missed the mobile device revolution started by Apple’s iconic iPhone, but it still managed to a ride on the smartphone boat.