Windows 10 is just around the corner, at least for PCs and tablets. For mobile phones, however, that’s not happening until later. Which means that there’s a window of opportunity for dreaming about the future. And when it comes to divining Microsoft smartphone future, there is no other favorite than a Microsoft made Android device. It sounds dreamy doesn’t it? A smartphone that combines decades of Nokia experience, Microsoft’s enterprise and productivity products, and one of the biggest mobile platforms in the world. But youu know what they say about things that sound too good to be true, and here are some reasons why.
Microsoft is not simply a software shop. It’s a big, hulking, massive enterprise that encompasses so many things that it’s easy to lose count. And to keep all of these together, it needs to exercise deep, complete control. And the only way it can do that is by rolling out and living in its own platform. Sure, Microsoft can, and already does, write apps on Android, but that’s about it. It has very little say with what happens underneath the hood, much less how Android is developed. In fact, very few do. Android is an open source plaform, but bulk of its development happens behind Google’s closed doors. The public is only privy to the code after the fact. OEM partners, of course, have a bit more insight, but in the end, all of them are practically customers of Android.
And yes, Microsoft can pretty much roll out its own version of Android, taken from the Android Open Source Project and tailored to fit its needs. Amazon does that. A few Chinese OEMs do that. Custom ROMs do that too. And even Nokia-Microsoft ventured there, and we all know how that went. And the resources Microsoft would have spent to get that custom Android experience to acceptable levels would have been better spent on Windows 10 Mobile instead.
Google and Microsoft aren’t exactly the best of friends. Remember that Microsoft insists on squeezing out royalties from many OEMs over patents in Android that it claims to own. The two are rivals in many aspects. It is no secret that Google wants its products to replace many of Redmond’s. Some even liken the search giant as the new Microsoft. To adopt Android as its main, or even secondary, smartphone platform wouldn’t just be conceding defeat. It would be business suicide. It would be like Microsoft handing Google a key to its kingdom, especially one very critical part of that empire.
Google’s grasp on the enterprise isn’t as solid yet, evidenced by its renewed push in Google/Chrome/Android for Work. This is one place where Microsoft still reigns supreme, after it has all but abdicated the Office suite throne. An Android smartphone that perfectly bridges the divide between Microsoft’s enterprise products and Google’s products would give Google the advantage to eventually push Microsoft out of the scene.
Microsoft receding somewhat into the background may have made its rivalry with Apple less important, but it has never weakened. In fact, all the glory that Apple now enjoys puts even more pressure on Microsoft to perform. And the one area where Apple is practically contested isn’t in laptops or computers. It’s in mobile, specifically, the iPhone. To some, it might make sense for Microsoft and Google to team up to topple the king, but that would only vindicate Cupertino even more. Imagine it would take two industry giants to take down a single one.
But Microsoft has its own battle to fight with Apple, and again it boils down to Microsoft remaining biggest stronghold: the enterprise. Apple has also made its move to become as relevant to businesses as it is to consumers and education and undoubtedly Microsoft is feeling the pressure. Is it any surprise then, that its latest Lumia ad covers exactly that?