Microsoft's took the wraps off three new Lumia-branded Windows Phone smartphones today, emphasizing their higher-end specs at mid-range prices. Microsoft also announced a new software update for its Lumia phones that will bring more functionality to Cortana, the digital personal assistant Microsoft introduced with Windows Phone 8.1.
Microsoft is taking steps to clean up its application storefront by removing apps whose name, category listing or icon might mislead customers. So far, Microsoft has removed 1,500 such apps and plans to keep on working with developers in an effort to clean up the store.
Huawei does not plan on building a smartphone running on the open-source Tizen platform, according to a senior company executive, dealing yet another blow to the fledgling smartphone platform. Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei's consumer business group, also said Huawei is putting on pause plans to introduce new phones running Microsoft's Windows Phone platform.
HTC unveiled a variant of its flagship One M8 smartphone running Microsoft's Windows Phone software, giving the platform the same kind of high-end hardware HTC and other phone makers have usually reserved for flagship Android devices. HTC hopes it can fill what it sees as a gap in the premium Windows Phone segment.
It's been clear for years that Google's Android and Apple's iOS are the two dominant smartphone platforms around the world, but a new report form research firm IDC on second-quarter smartphone shipments makes clear there almost isn't any breathing space for any competitors.
Microsoft may need to abandon being in the devices market altogether and focus more on services, according to industry analyst Chetan Sharma. Microsoft's Windows Phone platform continues to struggle for market share globally, and though it has gained traction in some markets in Europe, Sharma wrote in a recent research report that Microsoft may need to cuts its losses given the lack of return on investment it has made in mobile.
Microsoft on Wednesday unveiled the first Lumia-branded Windows Phone that will be sold at a price below €100 ($134), hot on the heels of news that sales of Lumia smartphones declined in the U.S.-based company's fiscal fourth quarter to the end of June.
Microsoft reported a 7 percent decline in its quarterly profit, largely due to the effects of incorporating Nokia's handset business. But the company's revenue increased with the addition of the $1.99 billion in revenues the company scored from Nokia's handset operations. Importantly, Microsoft sold 5.8 million Lumia-branded Windows Phones between April 25 and June 30. During the full second quarter of last year, Nokia sold 7.4 million Lumia smartphones.
Microsoft is going to wind down Nokia's Asha and Series 40 feature-phone businesses over the next 18 months to focus solely on devices running Microsoft's Windows Phone platform, according to an internal company memo. The decisions come as part of Microsoft's decision to cut 18,000 jobs, including 12,500 former Nokia workers, the largest restructuring in the company's history.
The job cuts Microsoft made to its Nokia devices business were not surprising, and they reflect Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's drive to change Microsoft into a software and services company that enhances productivity for enterprises and consumers through its platforms. Devices will still be a part of Microsoft, but they will be used for a specific purpose: to showcase the best Microsoft experience, primarily in high-end gadgets.