A few months back, Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella explained that part of the company’s decision to write down its recent Nokia acquisition was done to foster a larger Windows 10 Mobile ecosystem. While most tech outlets use the term ecosystem as a synonym for apps, it’s more traditional meaning refers to the environment surrounding an object. In this case, Microsoft specifically wished to unload the burden of being the largest Windows Phone manufacturer off to other, arguably more skilled handset makers.
As we wait to see if Microsoft’s strategic chess play pays off in the long run, we have been reporting a several OEMs who have put their brands name in the hat to make Windows 10 Mobile devices.
While Microsoft showed off the Lumia 950, 950XL and 550 during its big New York Windows 10 devices event, half way across the world at a separate event in Japan, other phone OEMs were showing off their own Windows 10 Mobile devices. Soon, Windows 10 Mobile fans will be able to choose between a phone from Microsoft, NuAns, FREETEL, Acer, VAIO (without Sony) and a few others. Unfortunately, the reveal was a bit light on details such as ship dates, region, carrier and device exclusives. The prices of the devices also remain a mystery, but it is encouraging to see some much needed support for the ecosystem begin to emerge.
Contrary to popular belief, OEMs have continually supported Microsoft’s mobile efforts. During the Windows CE days, several OEMs made hardware for Microsoft, HTC being among the most represented. Back in 2010 when Microsoft dropped Windows Phone 7, Samsung, HTC, LG, and Acer were among the brands leading the charge for a 3rd entrant into the smartphone game. As the waters grew rockier for Microsoft, OEM’s understandably made efforts to distance themselves from wasteful financial efforts regarding Windows Phone. Despite low market share numbers, Windows Phone 8 once again saw HTC and to a much lesser extent Samsung boasting new devices for the OS.
As the smartphone market matures, the onus is less on the OEMs to produce spec-packed devices, and more on Microsoft delivering a software experience people want to invest in. While it is nice to see OEMs jump on the Microsoft mobile-effort-ride once again, it’ll be even nicer if Windows 10 Mobile can keep them on this time.