In a letter to Microsoft’s shareholders, CEO Steve Ballmer signaled that the Surface tablets and the trend towards Microsoft building its own devices represents a “fundamental shift underway in our business and the areas of technology that we believe will drive the greatest opportunity in the future.”
With the statement, Ballmer indicated that shareholders should expect to see specific devices built for specific purposes on a periodic basis, though he did not elaborate on what that might mean. In the nearer term, it likely means we will see an oft-rumored Surface Phone come out of Redmond, especially if the flagship Windows Phone 8 offerings out of HTC, Nokia and others fail to gain traction in the consumer smartphone market.
The announcement won’t do much to quell the growing public complaints from Microsoft’s hardware partners after the company announced it’s plans to compete in the tablet market with Surface and Surface RT. Ballmer pointed out that Microsoft sees its own hardware as supplemental to, and not a replacement of offerings made by its partners, though that may be a tough pill to swallow depending on how much of a dent Surface makes in competitors tablet sales.
You can read Ballmer’s letter in its entirety on Microsoft’s site.