Microsoft needs to show up at the flagship party

Seriously, just show up. The Lumia 830 doesn’t count. The last real flagship smartphone Microsoft had for showing off what they (and Nokia at the time) are capable of was the Lumia 1020. That was announced in July of 2013. That was ages ago, and 2014 is almost over. Nothing in 2014 really tops that phone especially in terms of camera innovation and that includes non-Windows phones. The Lumia 930 and Icon don’t have glance mode, so they’re out… and everything else had some other sort of compromise. I’ve even started to see articles claiming that Microsoft has given up on high-end smartphones. Does Microsoft really want its brand associated with the lowest of the low?

Maybe a 41-megapixel super camera on a phone was a bit too expensive and it didn’t sell well, but at least people knew about it and all the other smartphone manufacturers looked up to it. That mind-share alone was worth it. I think that may have attributed to the Lumia 520 being such a big seller. If you like what that expensive Lumia 1020 can do, you’ll love what this Lumia 520 can do for $45.Illusionofpower_quote

You don’t even need to make very many of them. Just show us what you can do! Make 5000 of them and let them be rare treasures. That’s how the iPhone got so popular after all. Remember how the original was selling on eBay for double its worth?

As a friend, Todd Allcock said in an offline conversation, “MS doesn’t actually have to sell many of them, but it has to exist to show the capabilities of the platform.  It’s like a concept car or the crazy unwearable dresses a fashion designer shows in Paris- it makes people notice, and see what is available, and more importantly, for sales it gives the illusion of power and choice to the customer. ”

Give us something that makes us say, “Wow, that’s incredible! But what do you have that I can get for $200?” Microsoft needs to establish its dominance like it did with the Lumia 1020 back in the summer of 2013. What has Microsoft got to show for in 2014? Not much at all! Just a few $35-$40 smartphones that work well if you’re upgrading from an old dumb-phone from the ’90s.

Maybe Microsoft is waiting for Windows 10 to be ready before releasing something really good, or maybe they’re just okay with releasing cheap stuff for emerging markets. Either way, it doesn’t feel like this is a realization of the new CEO’s “mobile first, cloud first” focus.

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About The Author
Adam Z. Lein
Adam has had interests in combining technology with art since his first use of a Koala pad on an Apple computer. He currently has a day job as a graphic designer, photographer, systems administrator and web developer at a small design firm in Westchester, NY. His love of technology extends to software development companies who have often implemented his ideas for usability and feature enhancements. Mobile computing has become a necessity for Adam since his first Uniden UniPro PC100 in 1998. He has been reviewing and writing about smartphones for since they first appeared on the market in 2002. Read more about Adam Lein!