After rumors began circulating from the China Times that Microsoft is developing its own original smartphone for Windows Phone 8, others sources including WPCentral and BGR have since followed up to see if there is any merit behind the claim.
WPCentral first responded
to the rumor by pointing out there is no reason to believe Microsoft couldn't develop its own phone, but many reasons to speculate about what would be motivating the company in the event this is indeed its plan. The main grounds for doubt are Microsoft's partnerships with Nokia, HTC, and Samsung as they prepare to roll out Windows Phone 8 devices following a wider Windows 8 launch at the end of October.
A second possibility is that Microsoft is looking to market a smartphone that can be sold directly to its customers, along the lines of Google's Nexus, without any carrier or vendor to mediate. This would put Microsoft in competition not only with Apple and Google over choice of OS, but also with its own partners over the sale of hardware.
The final possibility follows from the second, which is that Microsoft may be looking for a contingency plan if the Nokia, HTC, and Samsung devices do not secure enough of a foothold for Windows Phone 8 in the growing and crucial mobile market.
The quiet approach taken by Microsoft is something to keep a close eye on, as it raises many questions about how the company plans to adapt as the web continues its advance over PCs. News that Google has overtaken Microsoft in market capitalization
highlights the trend, and while Microsoft is a diverse, resourceful, and historically innovative company, its challenges in the mobile arena are considerable.