It's been 17 months since Lenovo was first announced as a new Windows Phone partner, but the company still hasn't released a single device with Microsoft's mobile OS on board. In that context, it might be hard to imagine a new Windows handset from Motorola, which Lenovo acquired last year - but the company isn't ruling it out completely.
Lenovo's vice president and general manager for northern Europe, David McQuarrie, told V3 that the company has seen a 'surprising' amount of interest in Windows 10 on PCs, particularly from business customers. Given Motorola's significant market presence, he was asked if this surge of interest might lead to a Motorola Windows Phone.
In response to that question, McQuarrie replied: "There is an ongoing evaluation of what platforms we should be offering. We are a huge Microsoft partner on PCs, tablets and servers, and we continue to evaluate the ecosystem. If it makes sense, you could potentially see a Windows phone from us."
So the possibility of a Motorola handset running Windows 10 Mobile is certainly there - but further comments that McQuarrie made it seem unlikely that such a device will materialize anytime soon.
He noted that Android's dominant market position means it's sensible for Moto to continue focusing on that platform, not just for consumers but also for business customers. But more significantly, he also pointed out that Microsoft's own actions have reduced the need to develop a Windows handset at all:
With the phones that we have today, and the move by Microsoft to make Office applications freely available on Android, the gap between a Windows PC and an Android device shrank dramatically.
I use an Android phone and a Windows laptop and now I can open all my Office documents on my phone in a Microsoft app. The fact that it isn't a Windows Phone is irrelevant, so the move by Microsoft has made it far easier for us to sell a combined solution to business.
Indeed, it seems that Microsoft's moves to make its software available as widely as possible, across multiple platforms, may well be undermining the case for even building Windows phones, much less buying them. Office, OneDrive, SmartGlass, Skype and more are all available on iOS and Android, and Microsoft is even taking care of these device users with a Phone Companion app to help them get cozy with Windows 10 on their PCs.
This is working out great for Lenovo because it's happy selling Windows PCs under its own brand, alongside its Motorola Android handsets, and with Microsoft software across all of these devices, there's no truly compelling need for it to build Moto Windows handsets.
Nonetheless, while the case for a Motorola Windows Phone may not be especially strong, there's no indication that Lenovo's plans to launch a Windows 10 Mobile device have changed. That said, it does look like that handset will arrive later than planned - after a Lenovo exec promised a device last year, Microsoft later said that the manufacturer's first Windows 10 handset would go on sale this summer, but the mobile OS isn't expected to be completed until late September.