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Microsoft Says It Is Happy With Its Windows Phone Partners. But For How Long?

Will the company do the same with smartphones that it did with tablets?

Microsoft isn’t about to upset its partners twice. The company has said that it will not release its own smartphone based on Windows Phone 8, contradicting any reports to the contrary.

Financial analyst firm Nomura Holdings cut revenue forecasts for Microsoft partner Nokia last week on the belief that the software giant would soon release its own smartphone.

“We would not be surprised if Microsoft were to decide to bring their own handset to market next year given that Microsoft has decided to bring to market their own Windows 8 Surface tablet/PC products,” Nomura analyst Rick Sherlund wrote.

Sherlund’s comments set off a torrent of speculation on Microsoft’s next moves. Will the company do the same with smartphones that it did with tablets? Is this the beginning of Microsoft, the hardware manufacturer? The answers to those questions appear to be no, according to comments from Windows Phone chief Greg Sullivan.

Sullivan told InformationWeek that Microsoft has no plans to pursue a similar strategy in smartphones. “We have a strong ecosystem of partners that we are very satisfied with,” he said.

Microsoft confirmed and repeated Sullivan’s support for Windows Phone partners.

What's Behind the Denials?

Despite the denial of Microsoft itself, can we read more into these comments and speculate that the company wasn’t satisfied with its tablet partners? I think so.

Here’s some food for thought: Is Sullivan sending a message to its phone partners through his public statements? Microsoft may be happy now, but these partners are officially on notice not to slip up? It’s definitely a possibility.

Google released its own phone--the Nexus--which takes advantage of all the latest and greatest Android features. Apple controls all aspects of the iPhone, from its software to the hardware: RIM does the same thing with the BlackBerry. Microsoft is the odd man out here.

Don’t be too surprised in the not-too-distant future if Microsoft changes its tune, especially after the release of the Surface tablet. Microsoft partners, stay at the top of your game.

For more tech news and commentary, follow Ed on Twitter at @edoswald, on Facebook, or on Google+.

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