Microsoft Ends Accessories Business, Incase Steps In
Microsoft recently announced that it would be ending its own line of Microsoft-branded computer accessories like keyboards, mice, and headsets. This came as a surprise to many, as Microsoft has offered accessories under its own brand for years.
However, the company has now struck a new licensing deal with Incase, allowing the accessory maker to produce various Microsoft-branded devices. This means that favorites like the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard and Microsoft Arc Mouse are coming back from the dead in 2024.
Microsoft Accessories to Be Rebranded as Incase
Under the new deal announced January 5th 2024, Incase will be taking over production of various Microsoft accessories like:
- Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard
- Arc Mouse
- Surface Keyboard
- Surface Mouse
- Wired Desktop 600 Keyboard and Mouse Combos
Rather than being sold simply as Microsoft devices, they will now be “Designed for Microsoft” under the Incase brand.
Incase plans not only to re-release many of Microsoft’s existing accessories, but also to develop new products for the line. The first of the newly relaunched devices should become available by mid-2024.
Why Did Microsoft End Accessories Business?
Microsoft’s stated reasoning for exiting the PC accessories market is that it wants to focus on its core software, services, and devices businesses rather than accessory hardware.
Industry Analysis believe profit margins may have also played a role. Standalone accessories like mice and keyboards typically have lower margins, especially for a company like Microsoft not specializing in these product categories. Partnerships are likely to improve margins.
Incase – The Company Taking Over
Founded in 1997, Incase designs bags, cases, sleeves and accessories primarily aimed at Apple users.
Incase likely sees Microsoft-branded accessories as:
- A way to extend their brand to the Windows ecosystem
- Leveraging the strong Microsoft brand
- Diversifying into new product segments
We may see Incase take a similar approach to Apple accessories – focusing on design and branding rather than just specifications.
What Accessories Can Users Expect?
Incase has stated they plan not only to re-launch Microsoft’s existing lineup of accessories, but also develop new products for the partnership.
Potential new products teased so far include:
- A Surface Pen charging stand
- An adjustable laptop stand for the Surface Laptop Studio
- A revised Microsoft Modern Mobile Mouse
- Updated color options on accessories like the Arc mouse
Incase also states they are exploring materials like aluminum, fabric, and leather for future accessories to match the aesthetics of Surfacebook devices.
The company seems to recognize that Microsoft-branded accessories are popular with customers, saying “We recognize the nostalgia around the original Microsoft Hardware accessories and made strategic decisions around the portfolio to bring back accessories people know and love while innovating new products.”
While details are still limited, they plan to reveal further information on pricing, specs, and availability dates for the relaunched devices around mid-2024.
Outlook on the Future of Microsoft Accessories
While this licensing deal marks the end of Microsoft directly producing its own accessories, the Incase partnership offers hope:
- Many favorites like the Sculpt Keyboard, Arc Mouse, and Surface Mouse are coming back
- We may see even better and more innovative designs suited to Surface under Incase
- The Microsoft brand remains on accessories reassuring consumers on quality
This refocusing allows Microsoft to concentrate resources on Windows, Azure, Surface, gaming and other key areas – while still preserving the Microsoft ecosystem of devices.
Meanwhile Incase can apply their design expertise to Microsoft accessories potentially making them more aesthetically appealing. Their expertise in materials like leather and fabric may also make for more premium Microsoft-branded accessories.
If early product teasers are any indication, we may see more ambitious accessories better tailored to recent products like the Surface Laptop Studio.
While the shift from Microsoft’s in-house accessory production to a licensing model will take some adjustment, the Incase team seem committed to producing new and improved devices worthy of the Microsoft name. Most importantly, it prevents several popular accessories from disappearing altogether.
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