Yes, the Microsoft phone is really happening: Introducing the Surface Duo
The company known for its Windows operating system is getting back into smartphones by embracing its rival's ecosystem.
Shara TibkenFormer managing editor
Shara Tibken was a managing editor at CNET News, overseeing a team covering tech policy, EU tech, mobile and the digital divide. She previously covered mobile as a senior reporter at CNET and also wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. Shara is a native Midwesterner who still prefers "pop" over "soda."
Watch this: Microsoft unveils Surface Duo, a foldable Android phone
By partnering with Google, the Surface Duo will be able to run apps from the Google Play Store.
"This product brings together the absolute best of Microsoft, and we're partnering with Google to bring the absolute best of Android in one product," Microsoft Product Chief Panos Panay said. "This is industry pushing technology."
Microsoft tried for over two decades to make operating systems for mobile phones, but it gave up on the effort two years ago. It couldn't compete with the popularity of Google's Android and Apple's iOS, which will be on 87% and 13% of the world's smartphones this year, respectively, according to IDC. Instead, Microsoft has opted to expand its Office software and other services to rival devices, including iPhones. The company's first Android phone takes that further.
Getting back into phones won't be easy. There are really only three companies who sell devices in huge numbers and make any money from their smartphones -- Samsung, Huawei and Apple. In the second quarter, 22% of smartphones shipped in the world were made by Samsung, 17% by Huawei and 11% by Apple, according to Strategy Analytics. No one else cracked 10%, though Chinese vendors Xiaomi and Oppo came close. It's unlikely that Microsoft, with an Android phone, would ever become a major phone vendor.
While Microsoft is betting that dual screens is the future, most other companies in the phone market are counting on foldable displays. Nearly ever major handset maker is rumored to be working on a foldable device.