Microsoft puts Windows Phone on hold

Remember, Comdex went on "hiatus," too.

Well, now we know why Microsoft’s Windows Phone didn’t appear at Microsoft’s Build keynote on Wednesday: it simply isn’t on Microsoft’s radar screen at the moment.

The question, of course, is whether it will ever be again.

“We’re going to do some cool things with phones, but this year phones are an important part of our family but not the tip of the spear,” Windows chief Terry Myerson told The Verge on Wednesday.

Phones, Myerson added, “is the wrong place for us to lead.”

Why this matters: Myerson’s comments have to feel like a bit of a slap at those dedicated Lumia phone fans who have stuck with the company’s products through thick and thin. Those numbers are dwindling, however: holiday sales for Lumia devices plunged to about half that of the year prior, and by now, most everyone knows that Windows phones have about a one percent share of the worldwide smartphone market. Microsoft said it would close its Lumia Voices Twitter account earlier this week.

At Microsoft, “devices” equal Surface, HoloLens

Instead, Myerson said, look for Microsoft to concentrate its hardware engineering powers on devices like the Surface as well as the HoloLens. And you can’t argue with that; Microsoft began shipping its $3,000 HoloLens Development Edition on Wednesday, and those developers were lined up to try it out as well as a special Destination: Mars app, designed by NASA and featuring astronaut Buzz Aldrin.

If there was anything else to glean from Myerson’s comments, it’s that he referred to the phone as a “4-inch” screen—the dimensions of the Apple iPhone SE, but relatively smaller than the Lumia 950 and most other larger phones and “phablets”. Could Microsoft be thinking of a return to ultraportability in the phone market, replacing the larger screens with something like a HoloLens? It seems like a ridiculous idea, especially with a rumored Surface phone waiting in the wings. But with such a minuscule market share, Microsoft may be thinking outside the box.

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Mark Hachman

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