In an interview with Marketplace’s “Make Me Smart” podcast, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says that the company isn’t quite ready to give up on smartphones just yet, despite the infamous flop of its Windows phones.
“I’m sure we’ll make more phones, but they will not look like phones that are there today,” Nadella said, in an interview spotted by Mashable.
For context, Microsoft booked $5 million in smartphone revenue last quarter, down 99% from the $735 million from the same quarter of 2016. The year before that, in 2015, mobile revenue was about $1.4 billion. The last time Microsoft even released a flagship Windows 10 Mobile phone was in December 2015, with the Lumia 950 and 950XL. Its mobile market share is around 0.3% and shrinking.
So, the fact that Nadella says Microsoft will release another phone is somewhat surprising in and of itself. In this same Marketplace podcast interview, Nadella says that they’re looking to blaze a path in smartphones the same way the Surface did with tablet/laptop hybrids.
Nadella’s comments about building a phone that’s a little different echoes many previous comments made by Nadella and other Microsoft execs over the last few years — it’s long been rumored that a hypothetical Microsoft Surface Phone will be a smartphone and a PC, all in one, as a way to set itself apart from the iPhone and Android.
But while Nadella hints that the company’s mobile ambitions aren’t over just yet, at least one top mind at Microsoft thinks the whole concept of smartphones is a little passé: Technical Fellow Alex Kipman, the inventor of Microsoft’s HoloLens holographic headset, told Bloomberg that smartphones are on their way out.
“The phone is already dead,” Kipman told Bloomberg. “People just haven’t realized.”
In a recent interview with Business Insider, Kipman expressed similar sentiments. By Kipman’s reckoning, devices like the HoloLens, which project digital imagery into your field of view, are the future of technology. After all, if your text messages, movie screens, phone calls, games, and documents are projected into your view, who needs a phone?
It’s a view shared by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, who recently expressed his belief that there won’t be any need for big-screen TVs if you have this so-called “augmented reality” technology.
So while Microsoft works out its mobile agenda, just know that the company is already working to hasten the slow, sure death of the smartphone — so it can conquer whatever comes next.