Microsoft APC 2014: Steven Elop - Mobile devices need more ‘ambient intelligence’

Microsoft APC 2014: Steven Elop - Mobile devices need more ‘ambient intelligence’

Microsoft’s global smartphone boss Steven Elop used his keynote to lay out its new 'challenger mindset' in the portables market

Steven Elop during his Nokia days, with former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

Steven Elop during his Nokia days, with former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

Microsoft’s vice-president of Devices & Services, Steven Elop, was the special keynote speaker at Microsoft Australia’s Annual Partner Conference on the Gold Coast.

Under Microsoft’s new global CEO, Satya Nadella, the company has pursued a ‘mobile first, Cloud first’ strategy, which makes the former Nokia boss a key figure in the company’s new business strategy.

Elop coins this world as a ‘ubiquitous computing world’, where experiences spread across devices. One of the key pieces of software Microsoft has been pushing on its (now) Lumia range of devices has been its personal assistant, Cortana, which competes with the iPhone’s Siri and Google Now.

The difference, Elop said, is Cortana’s ‘Ambient Intelligence’, which means the device knows more about you. For example, Cortana can learn your sleep patterns and make sure your phone is on silent automatically during those times, or when you start talking to a friend that owes you money it will pop up with a reminder.

“We want to make your life a better life,” he said.

The opportunities for partners is huge, he said. Already there are three billion connected devices on the planet, and Microsoft wants to “reinvent productivity for every organisation and person on the planet.”

Microsoft’s partners are the ‘special sauce’ to boost productivity and build on the company’s core strengths, he said.

Elop said, in this new world, people don’t want to separate their digital life from their work life, and this includes the company’s Cloud offerings.

This is the philosophy behind the company’s Windows Phone offerings, as well as the newly launched Surface Pro 3 tablet, which he strangely compared to a Macbook Air laptop.

ELop said he is in weekly meetings to determine what new products need to be developed that aren’t in action today, and that Microsoft can use to build market share.

“We have a different level of investment for different product categories,” he said.

He also mentioned the company’s PPI products – essentially giant screen tablets that can be hung on walls or used as giant interactive tables, and said the company is “ramping up its production for businesses” and that it would soon be available for general release.

Furthermore, Elop claimed that the Xbox One launch was Australia’s biggest console launch ever, and that the company remains “squarely focused on making the market for Windows Phone.”

Despite pulling in some new deals – Delta Airways now uses Surfaces and Lumia for its pilots and flight attendants – Elop is under no illusions about the size of the task ahead of his company.

He said Microsoft plans to “obsess over our customers” and change the company’s mindset and internal processes.

“We’re going to fight back as a challenger.”

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Tags MicrosoftNokiaWindows 8LumiaPPIXbox OnecortanaWindows Phone 8.1Surface Pro 3Steven Elop


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