Today, Microsoft announced that it is selling its unprofitable feature phone business to a new Foxconn subsidiary. But the bigger news, buried in a single sentence of the Microsoft announcement is this: The software giant just suggested that it no longer produce new Lumia smart phones.
Brad is writing about today’s news on Petri, and that story involves this new Foxconn subsidiary also licensing the Nokia brand for a coming line of Android-based smart phones too. They should have named the subsidiary Futility Inc. But let’s discuss something more relevant.
Take a gander at how Microsoft describes its commitment to Windows phones in this announcement.
“Microsoft will continue to develop Windows 10 Mobile and support Lumia phones such as the Lumia 650, Lumia 950 and Lumia 950XL, and phones from OEM partners like Acer, Alcatel, HP, Trinity and VAIO.”
That does not say that Microsoft will continue to develop Lumia phones. It also does not provide even the barest hint that it has any future Lumia—or Surface phone—designs in the offing. Microsoft will simply afford existing Lumias—heck, even the Lumia 550 wasn’t mentioned—-the same “support” it provides third-party devices. From a rogue’s gallery of companies that reads like a list of Batman villains.
No, I don’t actually think Microsoft’s comment has any bearing on the oft-rumored Surface phone(s). But I do believe that Microsoft has silently killed the Lumia brand internally and that we’ve reached the end of that particular recurring nightmare.
And … I’m not sure how I feel about that.
While at Nokia, the Lumia brand stood for something, and there was a general level of quality—aside from the horrible summer of the Lumia 530—that really differentiated Lumia from other hardware designs. Since Microsoft took over, there have been a few hints at past glory—the Lumia 830 and 730/735, for example, and even the Lumia 650, from a form factor perspective—but its recent devices have mostly fallen flat. In some ways, it is Microsoft that has finally driven the Lumia brand into the ground.
So when I think about a Surface phone, my emotions are likewise mixed. Microsoft could irreparably harm its Surface brand with a phone failure, for starters. And I suspect the plan is to market this phone, should that actually happen, as a convertible/2-in-1 device and not as a phone.
Anyway, the Lumia. I think this is the end. A moment of silence, please.