It’s no secret that Microsoft has been trying to distance itself from its failing smartphone business. Last quarter, the nicest thing Microsoft could say about Windows phones was that winding down the business made the company eligible for a big tax break.
“Microsoft, as all companies do, decided on a change in strategy and so they are less focused on what they thought they would be focused on today,” an HP exec told the Register.
The Elite x3, first released in February 2016, had a nifty concept: The phone could dock with a PC monitor or a laptop shell, with the interface changing accordingly depending on how you were using it. It slotted right in with Microsoft’s vision for “Continuum,” a Windows 10 Mobile feature that lets you plug a phone into a monitor and use it like a PC.
It was supposed to be the first in a line of Elite-branded gadgetry from HP, focusing on “road warriors” who didn’t necessarily want to carry around a bunch of gadgets. Instead, HP will discontinue support for the phone in 2019, even as many expect Microsoft to pull support for Windows 10 Mobile sooner rather than later.
Microsoft itself hasn’t released a Windows 10 Mobile phone since late 2015’s Lumia 950. And while rumors persist that Microsoft is working on a so-called “Surface Phone,” giving the company one last shot at challenging the iPhone and Android smartphone duopoly, we’re almost certain not to see it before 2018 at the earliest.
In his recent book, “Hit Refresh,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella hints that the company won’t get back into the smartphone game until the company has something else to offer. Until and if that “something else” materializes, Microsoft is officially out of the game. Meanwhile, Samsung is picking up the torch of Continuum with a dock that lets you use a Galaxy phone like a computer.
Here’s HP’s full comment, via a spokesperson:
“Many customers are finding value in HP’s 3-in-1 device, the HP Elite x3. It enables mobile workers, including first responders, field services, and others to have a smartphone that can provide a tablet and PC-like experience – the one device for them. We will continue to fully support HP Elite x3 customers and partners through 2019. We will continue to evaluate our plans with Windows Mobile as Microsoft shares additional roadmap details. Sales of the HP Elite x3 continue and will be limited to inventories in country. HP remains committed to investing in mobility solutions and have some exciting offerings coming in 2018.”