Technologizer

Department of Unthinkable Products: A Nokia Android Phone

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@evleaks

The Verge — a site which isn’t known for getting giddy over unsubstantiated rumors — has a report up by Tom Warren about a doozy of an unannounced product. It’s a Nokia phone code-named “Normandy,” and the part that’s startling is its operating system: a custom version of Android.

The reason that this is surprising, of course, is that Nokia bet its entire smartphone future on Microsoft’s Windows Phone almost three years ago, and its device group is now well on its way to becoming part of Microsoft. The notion that Nokia is or has recently been building a handset using Google’s Android is a bit of a mindbender — and any scenario involving the company doing so once it’s part of Microsoft seems pretty much unthinkable.

(O.K., I’d like to cleverly explain why a Microsoft phone running Android makes sense for Microsoft, or feels like something Microsoft would do. But I can’t come up with any logical rationale — if you can, please tell me in the comments.)

As Warren notes, an image purporting to be of a “Normandy” phone got tweeted by @evleaks in November (see above image). And back in September, the New York Times’ Nick Wingfield reported that Microsoft knew that Nokia was working on an Android phone. So the idea of Nokia doing Android, at least as a side bet, isn’t new.

Windows Phone has been so dependent on Nokia that you can certainly envision Microsoft freaking out over any sign of the Finnish phonemaker flirting with another operating system. The prospect might even have prompted it to make the acquisition sooner rather than later; if Nokia had wound up abandoning Windows Phone, it might have killed Microsoft’s mobile OS.

For now, I’m assuming that any Android-based Nokia which was in the works will remain an unreleased curiosity. But if it does reach the market — either under the Nokia brand or as a Microsoft phone — this much I know: It’ll be one of the most dumbfounding tech stories of 2014.

10 comments
vadertime
vadertime

I have been reading every article available on this subject for the past several days. From what I can surmise, Nokia is heavily  customizing Android into a forked version, much like Amazon did with the Kindle. Additionally, it appears that this forked version of Android on the low-end Lumia devices will provide stores and services from Nokia and Microsoft, not from Google or Google Play. Assuming that Nokia releases this phone in early 2014, only die-hard Nokia fan-folks would purchase such a heavily customized Android experience on such device. It does not appear to be something aimed at the mass markets. That market has already been saturated with low-end Android smart phones from the Asian manufacturers.

GarrettGregor-Splaver
GarrettGregor-Splaver

Because everybody hates Windows Phone OS.  And there's no gamble beyond hardware, because licensing Android is free.  (Open Source licenses.)  If it flops, there's less money lost, and microsoft can easily distance themselves.  If it works, they're loaded with money, and probably repeat the process.  They know their App ecosystem is 1/100th of Google's and Apple's, and this seems like a good way to use that to their advantage, if you ask me.

aberdeenross
aberdeenross

Right now, Nokia could be worried, because their Lumia devices aren't selling as much as other phones. Nokia actually is capable of making a good, high quality smartphone, but they had chosen the wrong operating system. Windows Phone is a good OS, but they are not really well accepted by most people, which might be caused by their overly metro UI. But if Nokia releases a Android smartphone, they will stand high in the market as Nokia has a lot of their own applications which are not at all bad. Plus , Nokia have one of the best smartphone cameras of the generation, with up to 41 megapixels on their Lumia 1020. Android, could prove a huge improvement on the sales of their devices.

mw733966
mw733966

What I don't get is because Microsoft doesn't sell as many phones as Apple they are in a death spiral. Phones are just a small part of what Microsoft does.Yes they would like a bigger piece of the pie but phones are not the end all be all of Microsoft. I forget how many computers world wide run Windows not to mention all the revenue from patents and the like,businesses , home computers you name it.Less than 1% of the world uses a Mac but I don't see people saying Apple is in a death spiral. Hell I can find Sony's PS4 now if I want one I cannot find a Xbox One anywhere.

whatsa
whatsa

This was around pre-MS buyout announcement....

As I am sure MS were not going to do the payments for ever I am sure Nokia were looking to hedge their 

bets by having something in the works.


The early stuff to this I think was the driver for the buyout offer as the brand Lumia is intrinsically WP.

And it ain't over till the fat lady sings......


BillPytlovany
BillPytlovany

Sounds like a Microsoft business decision to have a product that requires developer access to inside information about one of their competitors. You did say "custom" version of Android right?  Microsoft is hitting the beaches and hoping to get control of all the bridges and hedgerows.

RickBennett
RickBennett

Why would Microsoft allow Nokia to come out with an Android phone? Simple: I went Christmas shopping today with my wife, and the Microsoft mega-booth in the mall was vacant. The clerks were demonstrating the tablet/computer and Windows phone to…each other. Meanwhile at the Apple store, it was standing room only. Microsoft is so well and truly screwed that they'll do anything to try to break out of the death spiral. Heck, Andy Borowitz's NEW YORKER spoof on North Korea halting it's missile test because of a Windows8 bug (http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/shouts/2013/12/video-borowitz-real-fake-news.html?utm_source=tny&utm_campaign=generalsocial&utm_medium=google+)was actually carried as REAL NEWS by China's largest news organization. As Nixon once said, "No matter what I tell them, nobody believes me." Et tu Microsoft. Good luck digging out of this one.

safronized
safronized

@GarrettGregor-Splaver Wow!! "Everybody hates Windows Phone OS"?  Who are those everybody?  You? Your Girlfriend? and her Boy Friend?  Is that what you call everybody?

Windows Phone have more than 200,000 now.. and if that is 1/100 of Google's and Apple's then they must be having 20 million Apps in their app store... :)  Wow! that's a big number... ;)

Dude Get the facts right, before posting in tech forums..