A few years ago, when Delta announced that they would be using Surfaces and Windows Mobile devices on their planes, it was a big win for Microsoft. As we all now know, Windows Mobile and the Lumia line are effectively dead which puts Delta in a tough spot.
To little surprise, Delta is moving away from Microsoft’s hardware and is joining the many other airlines who use iPads and iPhones on their flights. The company sent out an internal email announcing the changes which will start taking place in 2018.
Delta’s move to a digital flight bag started back in 2011 with a fleet-wide rollout occurring in 2013. These devices help cut the weight of the paper forms previously used that could weight up to 40 pounds.
While the loss of Delta using Microsoft’s mobile devices is not unexpected, losing the Surface device contract has a much bigger impact. Microsoft has tried relentlessly to position its Surface Pro brand as the premium alternative to the iPad but in this case, Apple’s ecosystem proved to be superior to what Microsoft could offer.
This move for Delta is another example of how Microsoft no longer having a mobile platform is hurting the company’s business objectives. If Windows Mobile would have been able to grab even modest market share and become a mainstream option, I don’t think I would be writing this post today.
For Microsoft, the loss of sales of Surface hardware is one thing but the other, larger factor, is that the company needs to develop a mobile offering for clients that prefer a single vendor provide the entire hardware solution for their operations.
[Update] Here is Microsoft’s statement on this change:
“We have a great partnership with Delta. The company decided, as part of its hardware refresh cycle, to standardize on a 10.5” form factor for its electronic flight bag. Delta continues to invest in and is using Microsoft productivity and business applications, including Dynamics and Office 365 across their operations and will continue to do so.”