There was continued speculation that Nokia will offer an Android-powered device positioned below its Windows Phone portfolio, although the latest reports seem to indicate that the device will share a family resemblance to its Microsoft-powered siblings.
According to what are purported to be leaked images, the device – codenamed Normandy – has hardware which fits with the company’s Lumia portfolio. But more interestingly, it features a user interface that looks more like Windows Phone’s tiles, and includes Microsoft and Nokia’s services placed front and centre – including Skype and Here Maps.
This is similar to the path Amazon has followed with its Kindle Fire devices, which see Google’s services stripped-out in favour of the online retailer’s own propositions. While this enables it to benefit from a large degree of commonality with Android – it previously said that 75 per cent of Android apps work on its platform with no additional work – it also effectively gives it its own platform with reduced influence from Google, and differentiated from other Android vendors.
While it has widely been perceived as odd that a company set to be acquired by Microsoft is set to bring an Android-powered smartphone to market, such a move would help Nokia address a shortcoming in Nokia’s portfolio – the weakness of its aging Series 40 platform and its variants when compared to Android.
By looking to leverage existing support for Android across the board – from components through to its developer base – it will be able to deliver a more compelling proposition than by going it alone.
And looking at it pragmatically, Microsoft stands to gain a lot from such a strategy. On a device level, it will enable it to target entry-level smartphone users with the potential aim of moving them up to a Windows Phone device in future within the Nokia brand – creating higher-value users.
But, perhaps more significantly, it will enable it to bring new users to Microsoft’s content and services, including customers coming online for the first time. This is a similar strategy to that of Google with Android – to bring new customers into the fold at the earliest opportunity, in the hope of driving loyalty as they move up through the smartphone ranks.