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

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?
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

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?

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