Over the the past few years, Microsoft has tried to master the delicate art of vertical integration on several occasions, but none of those previous attempts quite measure up to the Surface in audacity. If the Surface succeeds, Microsoft stands to reap the financial fruits of vertical integration, but at the risk of estranging the many PC vendors with whom it has longstanding ties. So the big question at this point in time is: just how far is Microsoft willing to go?
While there are those who believe the Redmond-based tech giant is merely trying to stimulate the market for Windows 8 devices and it will eventually step aside for the sake of its hardware partners — an appropriate analogy would be a director making a guest appearance in his own film — comments Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer made to the BBC tell a different story.
“Is it fair to say we're going to do more hardware? Obviously we are... Where we see important opportunities to set a new standard, yeah we'll dive in,” Ballmer told the BBC. “We have committed ourselves on a path where we will do whatever is required from both a hardware and a software innovation perspective and the cloud innovation perspective in order to propel the vision that we have.”
It is widely believed that the next own-brand device to roll out from Microsoft’s stable will be a Windows Phone 8 device, with some recent reports even claiming that such a Microsoft-branded smartphone is already in the works. But Nokia’s chief executive Stephen Elop isn’t too concerned. During a recent conference call, he told analysts that a Microsoft-branded handset would be “a stimulant to the ecosystem.”