There have been rumours making the rounds saying that Microsoft is going to discontinue the Lumia lineup by the end of this year and in its place produce a Surface Phone. If that happens, it will be no surprise. The company has already done away with their feature phone business. Plus, Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile, the operating systems that power Microsoft’s Lumia phones, have not been a hit in recent times. As a matter of fact, the numbers look very bad. It is a steep nosedive.
The Plan: Surface Phone
The plan seems to be this: scrap the Lumia lineup and let OEMs be the drivers of Windows smartphones. Have you noticed that Microsoft has not announced any new Lumia smartphones since the Lumia 650, which has been rumoured to be the last Lumia? There you go. The light of the Lumia appears to be fading. In addition, Microsoft will produce the Surface Phone as a flagship of the Windows smartphone ecosystem. The idea is to use the successful Surface tablet branding to push that device.
What Is Different?
The question that is running in my head is this, how will this plan do anything to change the fortunes of Windows Mobile OS? What is going to change in the ecosystem besides the fact that Microsoft won’t be churning out legions of smartphones any more? And let us assume that the Surface brand sells the first Surface Phone. If nothing has changed with Windows 10 Mobile to make it more compelling, will the branding be enough to sell subsequent models?
Will the manufacturers ramp up their production to fill the hole that the absence of Lumia devices will make in the market? Even more pertinent, will people suddenly start buying more Windows smartphones simply because they are made by names like Samsung, Sony, HTC, and others?
The Windows 10 Mobile User Experience
I have written about the Windows smartphone user experience a number of times. While the tiles interface is neat, it is due for a revamp. It has been around for quite a while and should have been improved on by now. Sadly, not much has happened by way of improvements. Also, in terms of performance, it no longer has that edge of being smother than Android OS. I have run comparisons between my Lumia 950 and some Android smartphones that do not even have its muscle. In all my comparisons, the Android phones ran smoother and faster.
Speaking of performance, try running available app updates in the Windows Store on your Lumia and see how frustratingly sluggish the experience has become. You run the update and things move into slow motion mode. often, the updates fail and you have to refresh multiple times to get them going again. The Windows Mobile Store is now many times less pleasant to use than Play Store.
Windows 10 Mobile should have been an opportunity for Microsoft to bring improvements in both visuals, interactions and performance. But look where we still are.
If my comparisons of the Lumia 950 with the competition is anything to go by, then I dare say that Windows smartphones are not as pleasant to use as they used to be. There is a big problem with the platform now, and I am not even talking about apps that are being discontinued monthly.
I am still asking, If Microsoft discontinues the Lumia lineup, introduces a Surface Phone and lets their OEM partners produce the majority of Windows smartphones, what difference will all of that make, considering the situation on ground?