Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer told BBC News that his company wants to "set a new standard" in hardware markets where it sees its partners struggling. Ballmer basically confirmed that the Surface tablet is just the beginning, and that Microsoft will enter more markets with own-brand products. What's next remains a mystery, but a "Surface Phone" could well be one of Microsoft's priorities.
When asked about the prospect of a surface phone, former Microsoft Canada executive Stephen Elop -- now the CEO of Nokia Oyj. (HEX:NOK1V) -- offered praise for the idea. He commented, "[It would be] a stimulant to the ecosystem."
It's possible Microsoft could partner with a third party to produce its vision in the form of Microsoft-branded hardware; if so Nokia would likely be a leading candidate. That's the approach Google Inc. (GOOG) -- like Microsoft, a software company at its roots -- used to promote Android tablets/smartphones, via its Google-branded "Nexus" devices.
But it's possible that Microsoft will simply design the devices on its own. As it has shown with the Surface tablet and the Xbox/Xbox 360, Microsoft has evolved into a company thoroughly capable of producing its own intriguing third party hardware.