Surface Duo is getting cheaper and cheaper. What does this mean for Microsoft’s mobile strategy?

Less than a year after it hit the market, continued price cuts indicate that Surface Duo wasn’t responding to consumer enthusiasm more than expected.

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“It’s an industry-leading technology and it has the potential to drive it,” said Panos Panay, Microsoft’s chief product officer, two years before launching the company’s first dual-screen device, the Surface Duo. Said.

Microsoft went all-in and sold the Surface Duo as a premium product. Two 5.6-inch displays line up, making it a foldable device that folds between your phone and tablet. In September 2020, the device began shipping for $ 1,400, which raises the eyebrows. But in time, catchy discounts emerged, suggesting that Microsoft’s ambitions were at least slightly overkill.

Surface Duo was aimed at helping Microsoft hit the mobile market seriously after many years of failure. “Microsoft was aiming to revive the smartphone business,” analyst Forester researcher Himank Joshi told ZDNet. “The launch of Surface Duo was part of the company’s strategy to ensure that it was ready for the future of mobile computing.”

The Redmond Giants are nothing new in the mobile world, but they are not the best known for their success.

Microsoft exhibited Windows Phone, its own operating system for mobile phones, as early as 2010, while Android was already widespread. A few years later, the company announced that it would acquire Nokia’s telephone business for € 5.44 billion ($ 6.6 billion) to push Microsoft software to cutting-edge hardware.

Microsoft lost the bet. The purchase was completed in 2014. Two years later, the company had to swallow a $ 7.6 billion write-down in the acquisition and cut about 20,000 jobs. Since then, Microsoft has completely discontinued support for Windows Phone.

Despite the growing duopoly of Android and iOS, the company’s proposal was simply not attractive enough. Also, Windows Phone’s market share was so small until 2017 that it didn’t make sense for developers to rewrite their apps to run on Microsoft’s operating system.

Still, Microsoft had little choice but to be patient. As Apple and Google show, success in the smartphone market is the first step before trapping loyal customers in an ecosystem of connected apps and services. This is an attractive outlook for companies like Microsoft, which have a lot to offer, from Outlook to Cortana, when: You will be running the software on mobile.

In the face of Windows Phone failures and markets virtually dominated by Google and Apple operating systems, Microsoft has changed its Surface Duo strategy. The Redmond giant forgot to try to star its own mobile operating system and decided to use Android instead, hoping to attract the attention of the wider world.

In short, Duo comes with a pre-installed Google app as well as a Play Store and Google search bar.

“Microsoft has been failing on the Windows Phone operating system for a long time, so partnering with Google to adopt Android was the right thing to do in terms of OS,” says Joshi. “This provided Microsoft with a huge addressable Android user base and a rich ecosystem of apps and services that could drive device adoption.”

This is a strategy that has been in place for some time, and we’ve seen Microsoft sign various contracts that allow it to drive an ecosystem of apps and services on alternative operating systems.

For example, when Samsung launched the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, the Korean giant announced that it had agreed to pre-install OneNote, OneDrive, and Skype on its device. Samsung also pre-installed Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive and Skype on some Android tablets.

As another effort to strengthen the ecosystem despite not reaching out to the mobile market, Microsoft has also released the Microsoft Your Phone app. This allows Windows 10 users to interact with photos, messages and notifications on their Android devices directly from their PC screen. ..

Maurice Klaehne, a research analyst at Counterpoint Research, told ZDNet, “Microsoft, like other players, is adopting an ecosystem approach in its products and services, which is strategic in this effort. It means pursuing all the means that are useful. ”

Consumers were clearly not excited about having Windows on their smartphones. In that sense, the partnership with Android seemed like the right call. If Microsoft doesn’t decide to revive the company on mobile based on a whole new form factor that hasn’t caught the user’s attention yet, it could work.

In the bustling market for smartphones and tablets, Microsoft had to find a way to differentiate. The company pitched the Surface Duo as a complete rethink of productivity driven by multitasking capabilities. For example, both screens allow users to view Outlook emails and calendars side by side. Alternatively, you can join the team meeting on the left while watching the presentation of a colleague on the right.

In addition, both screens are connected by a custom hinge that can rotate 360 ​​degrees. This means that Duo falls into the category of collapsible devices.

All of these specifications have been put together to justify the unusually high price that Surface Duo originally sold. problem? This device is innovative in principle, but in reality it seems to have failed in the important aspect of understanding what consumers really want.

“Duo is an example of product development that takes place without learning user behavior,” Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa told ZDNet. “I don’t think consumers are looking for an all-in-one device that combines a smartphone and tablet.”

Being bulky for a smartphone and too clumsy for a tablet, Kitagawa continues to assert that the series of price cuts since its launch reflect the unsuccessful Surface Duo so far.

to see: A 5G smartphone has arrived.But for many, there is still no reason to upgrade

Especially at the $ 1,400 price tag, it was widely known that Duo had little effect other than providing a Microsoft-optimized Android phone. To make matters worse, I wasn’t convinced by some of the key specifications that make mobile devices attractive. For example, the relatively heavy weight of the 11 MP camera, the old Snapdragon 855 processor, and the device has disappointed many users.

Microsoft believes that ZDNet always has room for new perspectives rooted in solving unmet customer needs, and Surface Duo makes a compelling claim to this new “dual screen” category. He said it would help solve the challenges that three out of four customers report facing. I’m trying to compete for complex tasks away from my PC. “Microsoft offers competitive prices for all its products, including ongoing discounts and promotions,” he said of a recent promotion.

For Neil Mawston, an analyst at Strategy Analytics, the Surface Duo was a “flop” and wasn’t too surprising. “Microsoft has been struggling with smartphones for decades because a business-driven culture doesn’t resonate with consumers,” Morston told ZDNet.

“Companies want dull stability, but consumers want excitement,” he continues. “Microsoft’s hardware, software, and apps are so clunky that they don’t rival the sophisticated style of the Apple iPhone and the ease of use of Android.”

The mobile market is integrated among Apple, Samsung, Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi. Each of these manufacturers is currently accumulating a large customer base, making it difficult for Microsoft to compete and prosper with such a strong market share.

For Mawston, Microsoft’s best bet is to focus on the segments that have already shown that they can bring growth: tablets such as Surface Book, Pro, and Go devices. According to analysts, the company is already a market leader and the outlook looks much brighter.

But there is another perspective on the Surface Duo story. Perhaps the dual-screen device wasn’t a big deal for Microsoft after all, and instead was designed to be an experimental shot with a new mobile form factor. This is a way to test water with consumers as part of a broader endeavor. To provide Microsoft services on new devices.

For Ben Wood, chief analyst at CCS Insight, Microsoft had fewer problems using Surface Duo than it seemed. The ambition was to take device design in a new direction, Wood says, and the duo was the first attempt to figure out what worked best.

Therefore, the lack of device success, not failure, is a learning point that enterprises can use to design their next innovation. Indeed, there are suggestions that the Surface Duo 2 is just around the corner.

“I think Microsoft will continue to experiment with devices like the Surface Duo,” Wood told ZDNet. “This offers an opportunity to expand the reach of our increasingly successful Surface device business, and lessons from Surface Duo become invaluable as technology evolves and new components such as flexible displays begin to integrate into devices. There is a possibility.”

The mobile market is entering a stage of growth, and after a year of prudent spending, consumers are now enthusiastic about replacing their mobile phones. In addition, the advent of 5G-enabled devices is creating a new wave of innovation that analysts describe as the “super cycle” of smartphones.

In other words, now is the right time to win consumer support with innovative devices that deliver exciting experiences. The question is whether Microsoft will take the opportunity.

Surface Duo is getting cheaper and cheaper. What does this mean for Microsoft’s mobile strategy?

Source link Surface Duo is getting cheaper and cheaper. What does this mean for Microsoft’s mobile strategy?

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