Nokia, who has been a strong supporter of Windows Phone, is about to release an Android smartphone as one of its last acts as an independent mobile phone maker at this year’s Mobile World Congress, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
According to the report, Nokia engineers were developing the phone while Microsoft – who acquired the handset division and patents for around US$7.4 million last year – were looking into the company’s books. Leaks by Evleaks have suggested that the Nokia Android device was called ‘Normandy’.
The phone will be aimed at the developing markets and will run on a heavily customised version of Android. The Nokia-developed Android OS will adopt a similar approach that Amazon has done with the Kindle Fire – strip out all Google services from Android and replace them with their own apps, and have your own app marketplace. It will also feature a Windows Phone-like user interface, with tiles on the home screen.
Nokia is expected to announce the phone at a press event during Mobile World Congress.
Elop on Android: it was too “restrictive” – what changed?
Nokia’s former CEO – and now in charge of Microsoft’s devices division – Stephen Elop told the Australian tech press last year that Nokia chose Windows Phone because Android was too “restrictive”.
“In the context of Google, of course you are required to adopt the Google Maps capability, which would’ve taken [away] our Navteq assets and said ‘What do we do with these now?’. They would have been less valuable to us at that point. So that’s part of the calculus,” Elop told the journalists.
So, what changed? Well, money.
According to the Wall Street Journal, citing familiar sources, Nokia’s move to Android is simply increasing handset sales volumes to help cover the cost of innovating in the highly-competitive industry. As part of that strategy, according to the report, it would take a more dedicated approach towards Windows Phone so that its Lumia devices can better compete with the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy devices.
In other words, the profits of the Android phones will be used to subsidise R&D that would be used for its Lumia lineup.
And that can be a good thing, right?