A top Microsoft exec dropped some hints that its next smartphone will be a serious iPhone competitor

Microsoft cmo chris caposselaMicrosoftMicrosoft Chief Marketing Office Chris Capossela

Apple and Google have long dominated the smartphone market. But Microsoft’s CMO Chris Capossela hinted there’s one-last chance for his company to steal some marketshare, and Microsfot won’t blow it with its next device, the rumoured “Surface Phone.”

“I think we have to do more breakthrough work” to make Apple fans “pause before they buy their 17th iPhone,” Capossela said on an episode of the “Windows Weekly” podcast.

Note: He didn’t say Microsoft is building an Apple-rivaling smart phone. But he didn’t say it isn’t either. And he definitely talked about the rumoured device as if it were a real thing that’s happening.

Whatever form this phone takes, it can’t come soon enough: While Microsoft has had success with tablets and now a laptop, the company’s smartphone marketshare is a piddling 3% globally. The company wrote off billions of dollars from its acquisition of smartphone maker Nokia and phones running Microsoft’s Windows operating system have not been huge sellers.

Basically, Capossela says, the Microsoft Surface Pro tablet line succeeded by merging the laptop and tablet into one device, providing the best of both worlds. Now, it needs to build something with that kind of killer approach to productivity, just on the phone side.

“We need some sort of spiritual equivalent on the phone side, that doesn’t just feel like a phone for people who love Windows,” Capossela says.

Lumia 950MicrosoftThe Microsoft Lumia 950

We’ve already seen some of that: Windows 10 Mobile, the company’s latest smartphone operating system, ships with a very cool feature called Continuum which lets you hook your phone up to a TV or monitor and use it almost like a PC.

Previously, it had been rumoured that Microsoft is giving the theoretical Surface Phone an ability to run full Windows software, not just apps from the Windows Store market. That might be at least a part of what Capossela was hinting at, too.

Still, while reports suggest it could come in the first half of next year, Capossela seems to indicate this next Microsoft phone could be a little ways off.

“To do something that I really think would compete,” Capossela says, “we need time to actually go build that.”

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