Microsoft Surface-branded smartphone rumors surface

It’s believed that Microsoft will launch its own branded smartphone in the early part of 2013.

According to a report by China Times, the device will launch under the company’s “Surface” brand, and will be the next big push to get consumers to shift away from the increasing oligopoly of Android and the iPhone.

This is at odds with statements by the company just a few months ago, when senior marketing manager Greg Sullivan told that it was absolutely not working on its own smartphone.

He said Microsoft was happy with its current manufacturing partners. To launch its own device would be a slap in the face to the other companies that are investing in Windows Phone.

Then again, Windows Phone adoption hasn’t exactly been anything to write home about, so Microsoft needs any kind of boost it can get.

Nokia’s Lumia brand has done alright. The company is currently the top seller of Windows Phone gadgets. Of course, being the top Windows Phone manufacturer is kind of like being the best player in Little League – you’ll still have a tough time competing in the MLB. In other words, Android and iOS are still dominating the market, and Nokia has a long way to go if it wants to legitimately compete in that field.

So can Microsoft pick up the slack with its own device? Will people flock to the stores to buy an electronic gadget that Microsoft built itself? We’ll see.