Posted by: Onuora Amobi
Apple, Google, Microsoft, Microsoft Surface
It has been said before that Microsoft should consider a Surface phone in order to better compete with the iPhone and Google-endorsed devices like the LG Nexus 4. While Nokia has done a good job gaining some attention for Windows Phone 8, the time for a Surface phone has now certainly come.
What is going on in the mobile world the requires Microsoft to act now? If the rumor mills are churning out real information and not just fairy tales, both Google and Android could be posed for a major attack on the mobile market that could change the scene forever.
What Apple is doing to change the mobile market
You’ve probably already heard that Apple is considering a budget iPhone. It seems more and more likely that this is a go. While we call it a ‘budget’ device, it seems more likely it will be a mid-ranger that aims for a $250-$350 price tag without a contract.
It is also rumored to utilize a new technique that combines plastic with glass fibre, to create a case that is stronger than your typical plastic phone. In other words, they will make plastic seem ‘more premium’ than ever before. The specs are also believed to be pretty solid considering the lower price tag, including the use of a 4-inch screen similar to what you find in the iPhone 5.
This is significant for a number of reasons. First, it means that Apple can now target countries where only a handful of people could previously afford iPhones, such as in China. Up until now, platforms like Windows Phone, Windows Mobile, Symbian and Android have enjoyed success in some of these developing markets largely because iOS couldn’t compete In a big way.
Outside of opening up the market, it also opens up consumer options if the handset comes to major markets like the United States as well.
What Google is doing to change the mobile market
Okay, so you can understand that Apple could be a problem with a new mid-ranger, if the rumors prove true. What about Google?
Google isn’t standing still either, and is hoping to change up the mobile world by releasing the Motorola X Phone. A new rumor claims that the way they are doing this is by creating a customizable cellphone platform through Motorola – which Google happens to own.
What is a customizable cellphone platform? In short, it would allow you to ‘custom order’ your handset by choosing from a range of specifications that fit within your budget. On the low-end, the device would come out to being as cheap as $199 (no contract), but premium features like more internal storage space, more RAM and a faster processor would bring the cost up.
Think of this idea as Google/Motorola doing to the smartphone market what Dell did for the PC market. There are certainly some obstacles to this approach, if it even proves true, but it could very much prove popular.
Remember how quickly the LG Nexus 4 sold out since it sold at low price point and great specs at the same time?
What Microsoft should consider doing
Both Google’s customizable phone hardware platform and Apple’s lower cost iPhone could prove false, I will admit that right away. Still, is Microsoft willing to take that risk?
Now is the time to prep a Surface phone that can arrive sometime around the same timeframe as Google and Apple’s new offerings. In order for this to be a success, it needs to meet a few targets:
1) It needs reasonably higher-end specs.
2) It needs EXCEPTIONAL build quality.
3) It needs to debut with something big, like Windows Phone Blue.
4) It needs to be cost effective. Heck, cheap even.
The last one will be the hardest for Microsoft, but they need to let go of the idea of making money off of hardware or even Windows for the Surface to have any chance at disrupting the market and helping stem off Google and Apple’s latest efforts.
To do this, Microsoft needs to sell at-cost and make up the difference through app sales and the use of its integrated services. Sometimes you have to lose money to make money, just like Microsoft did with the Xbox.
Even if Google and Apple’s ‘rumored’ handsets don’t pan out, or simply don’t prove competitive enough to disrupt anything, that doesn’t mean Microsoft shouldn’t consider such a move. What do you think, would you like to see Microsoft release a high-end Windows Phone 8 device with Nexus 4-like pricing?