Nokia is set to launch its anticipated device powered by an Android variant at Mobile World Congress, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing “people familiar with the matter”.
While the device has long been mooted, with its genesis coming before Nokia did the deal to sell the bulk of its Devices & Services unit to Microsoft, it has been unclear if it would ever see a commercial launch.
But with Nokia seeing pressure from low-cost Android device makers in its mass market portfolio, the decision to go ahead has seemingly been made.
It is believed that rather than being a pure Android device, Nokia will offer smartphones that see Google’s mobile services stripped-out and replaced by Microsoft’s competing products.
This will mean it can leverage the Android app developer base, although products will need to be tweaked for distribution via a Nokia/Microsoft storefront.
Amazon, which has similarly created its own variant of Android, has previously said that 75 per cent of apps can run on its platform with no additional porting effort.
While Nokia’s device sales have slumped in recent years, it is still big enough to provide an appealing partner for developers – especially if apps can be easily created from existing Android products, rather than requiring a separate development effort.
And by supporting Microsoft’s products and services, the new devices would give it an “on ramp” for new smartphone users and emerging markets, with the hope that customers would then see Windows Phone as the logical upgrade path.