Reports have emerged suggesting that Microsoft could be working on an own-branded Windows Phone 8 device with a view to an early 2013 launch.
According to China Times, the Redmond-based tech giant has been developing the device for the past 4 months and will look to launch the handset, said to be a follow up to the recently announced Surface tablets, in Q1 next year.
The news comes in the wake of comments from industry analysts Noruma just three months ago: “Our industry sources tell us that Microsoft may be working with a contract manufacturer to develop their own handset for Windows Phone 8.”
Microsoft quickly rubbished those rumours with senior marketing manager Greg Sullivan denying that this was the case: “We have a strong ecosystem of partners that we are very satisfied with.”
The ecosystem alluded to is currently focused around Nokia, with Samsung, HTC and ZTE also signed up as WP8 partners, so it’s unlikely that Microsoft will feel the need to bulk out its hardware roster so soon after the launch of its new mobile platform.
However, the launch of Microsoft’s Surface tablets in June has shown that the tech giant is not afraid to put a cat amongst the pigeons and risk the wrath of its manufacturing partners by entering into direct competition.
Whether this prospective Surface smartphone comes to fruition remains to be seen but it will be interesting to note the effect it will have on the commitment of those manufacturers to WP8 should the device become a reality.