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Microsoft HoloLens inventor: 'The phone is already dead'

  • Microsoft has exited the phone business and says it won't return unless it can do something new.
  • Microsoft Surface tablets and laptops are becoming competitive with Apple products.
  • HoloLens leader Alex Kipman told Bloomberg phones aren't an interesting business now.

Microsoft has exited the smartphone business for the time being, and at least one exec there says it's no big deal.

"The phone is already dead," Alex Kipman, the inventor of Microsoft's HoloLens augmented reality glasses, told Bloomberg in an interview. "People just haven't realized."

The statement might come as a surprise to Apple, which announced on Tuesday that it had sold more than 50 million iPhones in the first quarter of 2017 -- a number that actually disappointed investors, who were expecting around 52 million.

But Microsoft's smartphone business never took off, and the company has essentially exited the smartphone market which it entered in 2013 with the purchase of Nokia. It has since then laid off most of the employees it gained in that acquisition and written down its entire value. The only way Microsoft would get back in, marketing manager Yusuf Mehdi told Bloomberg, is if it could do something different.

The interview follows Microsoft's introduction on Tuesday of the Surface Laptop, a $999 device that runs a limited version of Windows for education called Windows 10 S. Microsoft is making a new push to grab more of the education market from Google's Chromebooks and Apple iPads, but the Surface Laptop is also an effort to get more students to consider Microsoft products in place of their favored Mac laptops.

Microsoft's hardware team over the last few years has become a serious competitor to Apple products, with one recent device, the Surface Pro 3 combo laptop-tablet, besting the iPad in a recent customer satisfaction survey.

Read the full Bloomberg article here.

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