Microsoft’s long-rumoured Surface Phone, which the company has previously hinted will be a serious iPhone competitor, has been delayed into 2017, according to Windows Central.
Originally, the word on the street was that the Surface Phone, Microsoft’s next Windows 10 Mobile flagship phone and the successor to the struggling Lumia line of Windows phones, would be coming out in late 2016.
The Windows Central report indicates that the Surface Phone will come in three models: One version each for consumers, business users, and power user enthusiast-types.
Notably absent from that list is a lower-cost, entry-level model — though the Microsoft Lumia 650, a $199 business-focused Windows 10 phone released in February, probably plays that role.
This phone, said to be designed by the Microsoft Surface team, has been previously reported as having the internal nickname of “Panos’ Phone” — after Surface boss Panos Panay, who took over Microsoft’s device business in July of 2015.
Whatever form this phone takes, it can’t come soon enough: While Microsoft has had success with the Surface Pro tablet and Surface Book laptop, the company’s smartphone marketshare hovers around a mere 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.
That’s probably why Microsoft is taking its time with this new Surface Phone, even though a 2017 release date likely means no new big Windows phone releases this year. With the iPhone and Android phones reigning supreme, Microsoft is running out of chances to get a foothold in the market.
Still, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently reaffirmed in an interview with Business Insider that the company is going to keep investing in phones. As Nadella sees it, Windows 10 Mobile’s Continuum feature — which lets you hook a phone up to a monitor, mouse, and keyboard and use it like a desktop PC — has the potential to shake things up.
“Just like how with Surface we were able to create a category. Three years ago most people would have said, ‘What is a two-in-one?’ And now even Apple has a two-in-one. And so three years from now, I hope that people will look and say, “Oh wow, that’s right, this is a phone that can also be a PC,” Nadella told us.