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Microsoft’s answer to Google Pixel, iPhone 7 to be launched in Feb

Technology giant Microsoft may have sold Nokia’s branding rights to HMD Global and Foxconn for $350 million after it failed to make a mark in the handset business, but you can’t write it off just yet.

business Updated: Nov 23, 2016 11:59 IST
Anirban Ghoshal
Microsoft smartphone

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella gestures as he speaks during his keynote address in San Francisco, California. ((Reuters file photo))

Technology giant Microsoft may have sold off Nokia’s branding rights to HMD Global and Foxconn for $350 million after a failed attempted to strike a mark in the handset business but it is far from being down and out.

Microsoft is believed to have sold the portfolio to Foxconn after the last quarter alone saw a 46 percent drop in phone revenue, slightly better than the 49 percent drop in the quarter before that.

According to industry sources and news reports, the Redmond-headquartered company is working on a consumer smartphone along with another manufacturer, just like Google did for its Pixel with HTC, which is expected to be unveiled in February at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona.

Read more: Foxconn acquires Microsoft’s feature phones biz as Nokia comes to life

“Windows is working on a new smartphone device which is expected to come out early next year, most probably during the MWC,” an industry source told HT adding that only very high-level employees know about the decision currently.

“Satya Nadella-led Microsoft may be planning to take a leaf from Google’s pages and manufacture a smartphone with another device-maker,” he explained adding that the new phone is likely to run on Windows 10 just like the flagship Lumia 950 and 950 XL smartphones.

Although details about the new phone is scarce, German website Dr. Windows claims that the handset-maker is most probably HP (Hewlett Packard) and the decision might be based on HP Elite X3 smartphone’s success.

The new phone is also expected to take advantage of several technology features which were already present in the Lumia lineup such as clearblack screens, glance screen - a lock screen which shows all important notifications.

The report also goes on to claim that Microsoft has internally confirmed the device and its release in February next year. Earlier in May, the company had said that it will continue to support and update the Lumia devices that are currently in the market, and will continue the development of Windows 10 phones by OEMs, such as HP, Acer, Alcatel, VAIO, and Trinity; as well as develop “great new devices.”

Read more: Microsoft halts smartphone manufacturing: union

Interestingly, Nokia is also expected to come out with new smartphones and tablets soon and MWC seems to be the perfect opportunity for the company to launch new devices globally. Erstwhile Nokia business head Rajeev Suri is also scheduled to speak at the event. According to reports, HMD is going to release two handsets under the Nokia brand name with 5.2/5.5-inch QuadHD displays, Snapdragon 820 processor, a 22.6MP rear camera and 4K video recording support. While speculations are abuzz that the high-end devices will sport a price tag of around Rs 30,000, the mid-segment D1C device is expected to be priced below Rs 20,000.

HMD GLobal, which will be led by Arto Nummela as CEO as the transaction closes, also said that it intends to invest over $500 million over the next three years to support the global marketing of Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets.

However, analysts claim that it will still be a task for Microsoft to keep app developers on the Windows platform as all of them are now focusing on Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating system.

Microsoft declined to comment.