According to The Information, Sony could release a Windows Phone device, diversifying its mobile device lineup, bolstering Microsoft, and perhaps demonstrating a growing wish among hardware firms to hedge against an Android-dominated future.
Sony appears to be strongly interested in the project. The Verge wrote this morning that the company has continued the project despite Microsoft’s plan to purchase Nokia’s handset business. Its willingness to consider building a Windows Phone device despite the platform having a firm home-advantage tilt towards Microsoft’s own hardware is indicative.
For Sony the move would diversify its mobile line away from Android, a platform now generally associated with Samsung hardware. The irony to that is the simple fact that Nokia is the de facto Windows Phone OEM, so Sony would be entering into a second realm where it would be a second-place player.
The winner in Sony’s potential entrance is Microsoft, even if the release of a Vaio-branded Windows Phone handset could potentially slow sales growth of its — soon to be owned — Lumia phones. Microsoft would collect a per-unit fee, perhaps enjoy faster overall platform sales growth, and, of course, there has ever been an implied connection between the Windows Phone and Xbox product lines. We have yet to see hard evidence in my estimation that one leads to greater use of the other, but the shared Xbox platform experience must have some impact on consumer activity.
Therefore, Sony building a Windows Phone would have some positive impact on Xbox. And that would, presumably, come at the cost of Playstation momentum.
According to the latest public data, Nokia’s control of usage share in the Windows Phone hardware ecosystem is now more than 92 percent. That’s dangerous for Microsoft as betting your mobile platform on a single device stack could lead to platform risks (a poor hardware update cycle could slow growth for a year, etc.), meaning that Sony’s joining the Windows Phone cadre could better moor Windows Phone.
When Windows Phone launched, it did so with OEM partners as diverse as Dell. There has been a winnowing. If Microsoft can flip that trend, it will have gone a ways to proving that the progress it made in 2013 was no fluke.
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