As Windows Phone has kept bleeding market share over the last few months, it may have become harder to believe that Microsoft’s mobile operating system still has a future. Several Microsoft execs have already reiterated that Microsoft remains fully committed to Windows 10 Mobile, even though many signs show that Microsoft’s Lumia line is definitely on the way out. However, Microsoft did address the state of the Windows Phone ecosystem at Ignite 2016 last week where the company shared its confidence that third-party manufacturers will continue to support the struggling OS:
As you can see on this slide, many third-party OEMs have released Windows phones recently including well-known PC manufacturers such as HP, VAIO, Acer and Lenovo. However, Lenovo’s COO Gianfranco Lanci recently shared at the Canalys Channel Forum 2016 in Barcelona that the Chinese company doesn’t have new Windows 10 Mobile phones in the pipeline (via The Next Web). The exec explained:
I don’t see the need to introduce a Windows Phone and I am not convinced Microsoft is supporting the phone for the future.
This announcement is quite surprising considering that the manufacturer released the Softbank 503LV back in July, a midrange Windows 10 Mobile handset exclusive to the Japanese market. But as Windows Phone never gained a significant market share in the country, it’s quite possible that this handset did not meet the company's expectations.
Actually, its not the first time that a Lenovo exec has expressed some doubts about the value of Microsoft’s mobile OS in the mobile market. Back in July 2015, Lenovo’s vice president and general manager for Northern Europe, David McQuarrie explained that Microsoft’s cross-platform strategy has made Windows Phone irrelevant. "I use an Android phone and a Windows laptop and now I can open all my Office documents on my phone in a Microsoft app. The fact that it isn’t a Windows Phone is irrelevant, so the move by Microsoft has made it far easier for us to sell a combined solution to business," he explained.
Overall, this latest announcements is not a good news for Microsoft's new Windows Phone strategy: if Lenovo doesn't believe in Windows Phone anymore, can Microsoft still hope that HP, Acer and the others will keep supporting it in the future? For now, HP seems to be the only OEM that is really pushing Windows Phone with the Elite x3, a business-focused handset with a big emphasis on Continuum, a Windows 10 Mobile exclusive feature that can provide a lightweight desktop experience by connecting the phone to a mouse, keyboard and external display.
It remains to be seen if Windows 10 Mobile phones can become popular among business users while Microsoft services are already ubiquitous on other platforms, as McQuarrie noted.