Microsoft recently announced plans to "streamline" its smartphone hardware business, a move that could affect Windows Phone developers worldwide. Although nothing is official, Microsoft appears ready to move past Windows Phone development, and the move may prove to be a good one for a number of reasons.
Microsoft today announced it will cut up to 1,350 jobs in Finland and up to 500 jobs globally as part of its further withdrawal from the smartphone business. The company said it would record an impairment and restructuring charge of around $950 million related to the move, of which it said $200 million would relate to severance payments.
Microsoft's mobile business suffered through another brutal quarter as the company sold only 2.3 million Lumia handsets, down from 8.6 million during the prior year. That marks a 73 percent plunge in Lumia sales year-over-year and follows the 57 percent drop Microsoft endured during the final quarter of 2015.
HERE said it is pulling its popular maps and navigation apps from Windows Phone, underscoring yet again the "app gap" that continues to plague Microsoft's mobile efforts.
Microsoft decided to kill its Project Astoria, an initiative that was intended to build a bridge between apps developed for Android and Windows 10. Kevin Gallo, Microsoft's corporate VP of program management for the Windows developer platform team, said in a blog post that the company instead will focus its efforts on a similar program for iOS apps, called Project Islandwood.
Microsoft lost even more ground in mobile during its most recent quarter, posting a whopping 57 percent drop in Lumia sales year-over-year. The company sold only 4.5 million Lumia devices during the quarter, down from 10.5 million during the final quarter of 2014.
Microsoft has reportedly delayed pushing a Windows 10 Mobile upgrade to some existing Windows Phone 8 and 8.1 users.
IDC expects more smartphone vendors to follow Apple's lead by introducing device financing and trade-in programmes to stimulate shipments, as it predicted that 2015 would be the first year that growth in smartphone shipments slows to a single-digit figure.
As expected, Microsoft unveiled new Lumia-branded smartphones at an event in New York City today, though it did not announce any carrier partnerships for the new phones. Microsoft executives used the event less as a platform to unveil new phones and other Microsoft-made hardware (like a new fitness Band and Surface Pro tablet) and more as a way to explain their vision for the company's Windows 10 platform, which is already powering 110 million devices.
Microsoft is expected to announce new flagship Windows smartphones at an event in New York City tomorrow which will likely be dubbed the Lumia 950 and 950 XL. While the device names and their specifications have largely leaked, what's unclear is how Microsoft is going to position the phones as part of its broader mobile strategy. According to the Wall Street Journal, after years of floundering in the mass-market smartphone wars, Microsoft is likely going to try and redefine success by focusing on market niches.