Microsofts Ballmer Hints At New Hardware
October 25, 2012

Is There More Hardware In Microsoft’s Future

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Microsoft´s Surface tablet will finally be released tomorrow, just days after Apple announced 2 new iPads and days before Google is expected to announce a revision to their Nexus 7 tablet. It would appear as if interest in this new Microsoft tablet is strong, as pre-orders for the tablet sold out after 5 days of availability.

So, in the days leading up to the Surface´s debut in the marketplace, Microsoft´s CEO Steve Ballmer is already making mention of further hardware options from the Redmond company.

"Is it fair to say we're going to do more hardware? Obviously we are... Where we see important opportunities to set a new standard, yeah we'll dive in,” exclaimed Ballmer, speaking to BBC News.

Just as it had when Microsoft first announced these tablets this summer, these comments from Ballmer are likely to upset those hardware partners Microsoft has so heavily relied on in the past.

In a June article following Microsoft´s initial Surface announcement, Roger Kay, a principal analyst at Endpoint Technologies Associates told PC World the move to make hardware was a clear statement to Microsoft´s partners. "I have to believe that [the partners] are fairly discontent about it," said Key in an interview with PC World.

"The tablet is the heart and soul of Windows 8, and it looks like Microsoft has reserved it."

Ballmer´s almost-admission of new hardware has further fueled rumors that the company, which has so often been accused of copying Apple, might have finally found that which they should have been copying all along: A tight integration between hardware and software. Now that they´ve made their own tablet, many have begun to wonder when they´ll move forward with their own phone to support Windows Phone 8.

While Windows Phone can be found on Samsung smartphones, Microsoft has been focused on their partnership with Nokia, pushing their Lumia line of Windows Phone enabled smartphones. In many ways, this partnership can be seen as Nokia´s last stand in a market dominated by Android and Apple, and so far, this last stand hasn´t been a promising one.

According to a study by IDC, the current Windows Phone 7 has only been able to capture less than 4% of the smartphone OS market in the July to September quarter. Though Nokia and Windows Phone usually earns praise in reviews, they´ve yet to be able to earn the kind of traction needed to become a viable contender in this space.

Therefore, it´s difficult to tell if a Microsoft phone could be just what the company needs to bring them back to a competitive level. According to Chris Green, a principal technology analyst at Davies Murphy Group Europe, Microsoft could already be working on a Surface-type phone as an exit strategy for their partnership with Finnish Nokia.

"The firm is heavily invested in Nokia succeeding with its Windows Phone handsets but can't allow for its failure to torpedo the platform,” said Green, speaking to the BBC.

"At the very least Microsoft will be developing its own handset to go to market in case Nokia and others don't do better.”

If Microsoft is planning on releasing a phone based on the Surface tablet, it´s likely they´ll have to wait and see how the new tablet is received among what has only recently become a space with more than one viable player.