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Microsoft CEO: "We don't have good devices" in the flagship phone segment today

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella today restated the company's commitment to deliver new flagship phones, and acknowledged that it's an area in which it needs to do better. But he also indicated that some key decisions need to be made in order to make its cluttered value phone range "more efficient".

Microsoft's recent flurry of affordable Windows Phones - it released seven low-cost handsets in just six months - has resulted in frustration among fans of the platform. The last Lumia flagship went on sale a year ago, with some key specs that were already a year old at launch.

Microsoft, for its part, seems keenly aware of the fact that its biggest fans are becoming increasingly vocal about the lack of high-end Windows phone hardware, and of the fact that many more months still lie ahead before it can deliver the flagship-class devices that people want.

It made this point when it announced deep cuts to its phone business earlier this month, unambiguously stating that flagship devices 'that Windows fans will love' will be one of just three handset segments on which the company will now focus. Windows chief Terry Myerson reiterated this commitment at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference last week.

And today, Microsoft's CEO Satya Nadella again highlighted the company's promise to deliver a new-generation of high-end handsets, during an earnings call discussing the huge quarterly loss the company reported today, following a $7.6 billion write-down related to its Nokia acquisition last year.

When speaking about flagship phones, Nadella said that that's a segment of the market "in which we don't today have good devices". In many parts of the world, Microsoft's most recent range-toppers aren't even on sale any more - and where they are, they're in very short supply - so Nadella's comment is something of an understatement.

But he went on to discuss the company's products in the entry-level market segment too - another of the three areas on which Microsoft will now focus its Lumia efforts. He said that with its restructured phone business, Microsoft will be well-positioned to become "more efficient" in value phones.

Key questions that need to be answered, he said, include 'how many?' and 'which price points?', when it comes to deciding which devices it should offer at the low end, which seems to be in line with recent claims that the company will launch just "one or two" devices per year in each of these three market segments. It also hints at some more of the 'tough choices' that Microsoft still has to make when it comes to restructuring its mobile hardware business.

The first Windows 10 Mobile handsets aren't expected to go on sale until October at the earliest, but at this stage, at least, Microsoft seems to be asking the right questions of itself when it comes to preparing its next-gen smartphone line-up. How the market will ultimately respond to its efforts, however, remains to be seen.

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