Department of Unthinkable Products: A Nokia Android Phone

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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.