Sitting second row for Microsoft’s unveiling of their new hardware line up, the WiFi is already slaughtered, and cell phone networks are melting down. It’s frustrating being detached from the wider social media world, but the buzz surrounding this event makes sense. Microsoft has never put together such a complete line up of products and services to show off before.
Chatting with others around me, everyone seems to be here for a different product category. Lumia fans, Surface fans, XBox Fans, Band fans, Microsoft has a lot riding on bringing these various teams together. Not just internally, as their company wide reorganization seems to be working, and we’ve recently seen a bit more product synergy between departments which used to feud. We’re looking at a company now trying to bring their diverse customer base together. Taking individuals who might turn to Microsoft for a single service or solution, and exposing them to a more comprehensive ecosystem.
They’ve made a lot of progress recently in re-establishing their reputation as a services company, providing apps on every platform. That doesn’t unseat the need for Microsoft and partners to find opportunities to continue pressuring the hardware market. While Windows is the dominate force in PC sales, they represent a much smaller slice of the mobile market. The timing on this event actually works in their favor, as tablet sales for Android and iOS are starting to cool off, Windows slates are in a good spot for consumers to replace both laptops and tablets with a single purchase. To continue moving towards one unified operating system environment, Windows needs to blur the lines between phones and tablets, as much as they did between tablets and PC’s.
I’ve been blasting it all over social media. While I’m trying to keep my expectations in check, I’m really looking forward to Microsoft’s announcements tomorrow, where the company is expected to take the wraps off of a new Surface Pro, and where we fans of Windows powered phones will finally get some new flagship devices.
Specs have already leaked for the forthcoming Lumia 950 and 950XL, and from a hardware perspective they look like they’ll be competitive handsets with some novel new tech features.
Most interesting to me, will be how this Lumia team has refined the camera experience. It was the old Nokia devices group that ushered in an era of crazy high quality optics and larger sensors on our phones. Nokia was years ahead of the curve there, but manufacturers like LG and Samsung have largely caught up to older devices like the Lumia 1520 and 930 (which I’ve brought along to help cover this event).
For my money, the camera battle between the Lumia 950 and the LG V10 is shaping up to be the most brutal as LG is working on improving their audio, and providing manual controls for shooting video, both areas where older Windows Phones still compete really well.
I’m also very curious to see how Microsoft will address mobile security. More Android devices are following behind the iPhone in offering up a smooth fingerprint scanning solution for unlocking phones and initiating mobile payments. The rumors on the 950 don’t show a fingerprint scanner on board, but instead the Lumia will be offering up an iris scanner. While other phones have flirted with using the front camera to unlock a device based on your face, we haven’t yet heard of anything as sophisticated as examining the iris of your eye. Whether this will be used solely for unlocking the device, or if we’ll see it utilized for some form of mobile payments will be closely examined.
And of course, I’m always going to be interested in seeing what Microsoft does with the Surface. As this division has become a billion dollar brand all by itself, the Pro 3 was a very well received product. Will the Pro 4 be a spec bump and minor refinement, or does Microsoft have something craftier up their sleeves?
I’ve only been on the ground here in NYC for about an hour, and we’ll be getting the official answer to all of those questions tomorrow morning! Now I’ve got to hunt down a good slice of pizza!