Is Surface a prelude to more Microsoft hardware?
It's no surprise that Redmond is aggressively promoting Microsoft-branded hardware in several markets.
To be sure, the company has manufactured and sold its own peripherals - such as keyboards and mice - for years. Then there was the ill-fated Zune, although the Xbox 360 continues to be wildly popular in the stagnating console sector.
Microsoft moved into the tablet market over the past few months with its (mainstream) consumer focused Surface RT tablet. So far, CEO Steve Ballmer has gone on record only as saying that Surface RT tablet chalked up "moderate" success, due to a limited supply chain.
Nevertheless, Ballmer recently hinted that Redmond may in fact be looking to market additional Microsoft-branded devices, specifically smartphone hardware. According to the rumors, the indigenously designed smartphone would have a screen between four and five inches in size.
Ballmer recently said that he expects Microsoft partners to "build the lion's share of Windows devices over the next five years." However, he also notes that Microsoft will begin selling more of its own devices as it is doing now with Surface.
"It is absolutely clear there is an innovation opportunity on the scene between hardware and software," said Ballmer. "And that is a scene that must not go unexploited at all by Microsoft."
Intrerestingly, one of Microsoft's primary smartphone partners, Nokia, doesn't feel threatened by rumors of Microsoft getting into the smartphone market. In fact, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop believes it could be a positive development for the Windows Phone platform overall.