Microsoft rumored to be planning to replace 'Surface' branding with 'Lumia'

Microsoft rumored to be planning to replace 'Surface' branding with 'Lumia'

Summary: Would it help or hurt Microsoft more if the company consolidated its mobile branding using the 'Nokia' and 'Lumia' brands instead of using the current 'Surface' branding?


Branding is hard. Branding is expensive.


And changing brands mid-stream is hard, expensive and sometimes (often?) ill-advised.

But according to known leaker @evleaks, Microsoft may be doing just that. According to his unnamed sources, Microsoft may be moving toward rebranding its Surface tablets as "Lumia" devices.

@evleaks also claimed that Microsoft may be negotiating to keep the Nokia brand longer than originally planned so that it can use it for future phones and possibly other devices.

Earlier this month, @evleaks published what looked to be some kind of Microsoft "technical branding" guidance document, which indicated that Microsoft planned to phase-out Nokia branding on a very specific schedule: 18 months post close of the Microsoft acquisition of the Nokia handset business for Lumia devices; through December 31, 2015 for Nokia X Android phones; and 10 years for Asha mobile phones. (From the way that planning document is phrased, I would guess it predated the close of the Microsoft acquisition of Nokia's handset business in April 2014.)

I don't have any first- or even second-hand information about these branding rumors. I've asked Microsoft but am not expecting any kind of comment.

I will note that Microsoft has spent a lot to land the Surface brand ever since officials decided to use it to refer to Microsoft's mobile tablet family, rather than its large-screen tabletop devices. The company is continuing to advertise the new Surface Pro 3 massively on TV during the World Cup 2014.

However, the Nokia and Lumia brands have stronger recognition outside the U.S. than they do here. And Microsoft is doing better selling Windows Phones outside the U.S. than here in the States.

Consolidating the Surface and Lumia brands would fit in with the company's "One Microsoft" messaging and positioning. And with Windows Threshold, the next major version of Windows due in spring 2015, Microsoft is expected to launch a single Windows SKU that will work on both phones and touch tablets. Would it be easier to land that unified message if the phones and tablets were all under the Nokia/Lumia brand? Possibly.

Would Microsoft stand to gain more from changing branding at this point in Surface's life -- such as being able to better distance itself from its early Surface history, as well as perceptions by some that the Surface devices aren't selling as well as Microsoft expected -- than it would lose by changing naming conventions at this point? Maybe... 

What do you think, readers? Should or shouldn't they rebrand Surface to Lumia -- if, indeed, that's actually under consideration inside the company?

Topics: Mobility, Nokia, Smartphones, Microsoft Surface, Windows Phone


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Lumia for ARM, Surface for X86

    I Love that they want to keep the Nokia name alive. Totally will help in keeping the goodwill that the brand has banked.

    Separating ARM and X86 branding would be a wise move.
    • Lumia for ARM, Surface Pro for X86

      That is exactly what I was thinking, that also helps in another way, in that it gets rid of any confusion about Windows RT, vs full Windows. While that naming would be great for MS, what about others who may yet still make a Windows RT tablets, I guess we can only hope that they get a name for the combined SKU that solves that. Perhaps they could go back to Windows Mobile, but that too could get confusing. Too bad we couldn't just count on better sales people and an educated buyer, that would solve the problem.
      Bobby Edwards 2nd
      • Scrap Lumia & Surface and brand everything "Courier."

        Courier phones. Courier tablets. Courier hybrids. One brand for everything.
        • Courier???

          Courier? Might as well call it an OldsMobile because it sounds just as old. Only Microsofties can appreciate a name like Courier...
    • They Would Have Better Success...

      Replacing the name "Microsoft" with one that consumers actually like!

      MS is all over the place, going in so many directions at once, that nothing they do appears to make sense.

      They should have dropped the Surface line after the ridiculous write off, instead they continue to have these quarterly, currency bonfires.
      • Weird

        So a company should stop making a product that doesn't make them money, right? I want to get this on the record.
        Michael Alan Goff
        • He doesn't GO on record, Michael Alan Goff

          he's just a BROKEN record, and little more.
          • Work at home special

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        • Depends on for how long

          HP dumped WebOS way too quickly. I'd give Surface a year or two to prove itself (unless it's losing money hand over fist with no realistic prospect of ever breaking even). But using "Lumia" for ARM devices and "Surface" for x86 ones makes sense.
          John L. Ries
          • John L. Ries: "I'd give Surface a year or two to prove itself"

            The Surface devices are already there. The Surface Pro is currently on its 3rd release, Surface Pro 3, whilst the Surface is currently on its second release.

            "unless it's losing money hand over fist with no realistic prospect of ever breaking even"

            Is breaking even enough for a for-profit corporation? Or is Microsoft going to follow Amazon with its devices being personal cash registers for its services?

            Microsoft is, first and foremost, a software company. Services make great sense for Microsoft since they are based on software.

            As for devices, this is the latest example of Microsoft extending itself too far from its core competency. The "branding" issue under discussion is a symptom of this. And, unlike recent branding changes Microsoft has made, this one isn't due to trademark disputes.

            P.S. Agree wrt HP and WebOS which wasn't given anywhere near 2 years to prove itself. HP also made the mistake of leading with a 10-inch tablet, the TouchPad, instead of a smaller form factor tablet (which was planned) when Apple was nowhere near releasing an iPad Mini. Android OEMs, by necessity, initially targeted 7-inch tablets as all they had was Android v2.3 (a smartphone OS) and they had to wait for Google to release Android v3.0 for complete tablet support.
            Rabid Howler Monkey
          • Profitability is obviously the goal

            But breaking even is a good starting point, as it's much easier for a vendor to keep a product if it's not losing money on the deal.
            John L. Ries
      • Microsoft should just let Nokia die...

        Microsoft should just let Nokia die on smartphones. Now that other OEMs are making Windows Phones, the Nokia brand will become even less and less relevant anyway, as other OEMs gain WP market share.

        I think Microsoft should just brand their phones & RT devices "LUMIA" and keep "Surface" for x86 tablets (like the Surface Pro). In other words, the Surface RT would become the Lumia tablet.
        • Work at home special

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        • They never should have bought Nokia

          They could have said "cool. Killed Nokia." Check the box and move on. There was no need to drag home the rotting corpse for a trophy.
        • Why would MS do that?

          After spending all that money to buy out Nokia's mobile business, MS really should try to get some sort of return on its investment.
          John L. Ries
        • Except that

          The Nokia brand includes some of the best Windows phones available.
        • Except that it was only Nokia that could sell Windows phones

          Dumping the Nokia Brand would be a huge mistake. It is a highly recognised brand outside of the US, you know in the rest of the real world. So Microsoft have made some sensible decision in trying to keep some Nokia Branding alongside keeping the Lumia Brand. Nokia has critical worldwide consumer brand recognition which Microsoft would be foolish to ignore.

          Microsoft, Windows and to some extent Surface are not credible brands and are failures in the Consumer space. Leave these brands for the Enterprise space, where Microsoft still has some brand value.

          BTW I love my Nokia Lumia 2520 Tablet, despite what Paul Thuorott thinks, along with my Nokia Lumia 925.
      • Orandy

        What utter rubbish you come out with. Have you been drinking?
      • You would Have Better Success...

        Replacing the name "orandy" with one that readers would agree would be more descriptive, like Troll!

        Maybe then people wouldn't have to read your posts to understand what they really are, instead they feel shortchanged that they wasted their time reading something that was little more then a rant form an envious person.
        • People who live in glass houses...

          ...shouldn't throw stones.
          John L. Ries