Microsoft CMO Confirms Engineering Effort On Surface Phone, A ‘Spiritual Equivalent’ Of Surface Tablet

We all know what Microsoft wants to do with Windows 10. It's supposedly the last monolithic release of Windows and the ultimate plan is to unite hardware from different device categories under a single, universal ecosystem. That includes smartphones, which is an area where Microsoft has historically struggled hard to compete. The release of a premium "Surface Phone" of some sort, however, could prove to be a game changer.

Let's back up a moment. Microsoft is aggressively pushing Windows 10 upgrades, and makes no bones about it, all in an effort to get developers on board to build universal Windows 10 cross-platform apps and spur mobile development. In that respect, Microsoft needs to finally make an impact in the handset space and Windows 10 Mobile is the company's one shot to do just that. It's also the reason Microsoft is slow-playing the mobile OS's release to older Lumia devices -- it can ill afford to roll out a buggy build that would contaminate the OS's reputation.

Microsoft is facing a major uphill battle. The most recent data from International Data Corporation (IDC) has Microsoft's share of the global mobile phone market sitting at just 2.2 percent, down from 2.6 percent earlier in the year. Meanwhile, iOS (15.8 percent) and Android (81.2 percent) combine for a 97 percent share, or effectively all of the smartphone market.

Microsoft Surface Phone Concept
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As bleak as it seems, Microsoft is potentially a single hardware release from turning things around. Luckily for Microsoft, the company knows a thing or two about hardware, as evidenced by its Surface Pro series and, more recently, the introduction of its Surface Book. These are products that Microsoft couldn't wait for third party hardware partners to conjure up on their own, so it took matters into its own hands. It could do that again with a so-called Surface Phone.

It just so happens that Microsoft is working on one, or at least something similar. In a recent episode of Twit, Mary Jo Foley pushed Microsoft's Chief Marketing Officer Chris Capossela on the prospect of a Surface Phone and he confirmed the company is working on a “breakthrough” phone that is the “spiritual equivalent” of their very successful line of Surface branded products.

In case you're not familiar with him, Capossela has been with Microsoft for over two decades. He used to write speeches for Bill Gates and is intimately familiar with Microsoft's many products and strategies. He's a guy that's plugged in, and to hear him reference an upcoming handset as a spiritual equivalent of the Surface tablet is pretty exciting.

More than that, it's one of the key things that Microsoft needs to get back in the mobile game, a task it previously hoped Nokia would succeed at. We all know how that turned out.

That's not to say we'll all be using Windows 10 Surface handsets around this time next year or even the year after. But here's the thing -- Microsoft doesn't need to topple Android or even iOS to be successful, it just needs to do better than a measly 2.2 percent share. That's the beauty of Microsoft's universal strategy, it doesn't have to dominate every market, it just needs to be relevant. A Surface Phone could certainly help achieve that goal.