Microsoft Corp. unveiled a dual-screen, foldable phone that will run on Google’s Android operating system, jumping back into the handset market after product failures and costly writedowns pushed it out three years ago.
The phone, called the Surface Duo, has two 5.6-inch screens and will ship in time for the 2020 holiday season, Microsoft Chief Product Officer Panos Panay said at an event in New York Wednesday.
With the Duo, Microsoft will seek to seize a share of a massive global market for mobile phones that’s on the cusp of transitioning to new technology with the arrival of 5G networks. Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella took Microsoft out of the phone business in 2016, three years after the purchase of Nokia Oyj’s handset unit for more than $7 billion failed to arrest Windows’ sliding share in the smartphone market.
Since then, company executives have repeatedly said Microsoft wouldn’t re-enter that market unless it had something different to offer. A return to phones this time has Microsoft relying on software rival Google’s Android for the operating system. Android powers the large majority of smartphones around the world.
“This is an aggressive move that was not expected by the Street,” said Wedbush Securities analyst Daniel Ives. “We view it as a smart strategic gamble by Nadella to jump back into the deep end of the pool on the smartphone front.’’