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Nokia Still Experimenting With Android Smartphone 63

Nerval's Lobster writes "According to unnamed sources, Nokia is working on an Android-based smartphone. The test versions of the device, which is codenamed 'Normandy,' run a heavily modified version of Android. In late November, @evleaks posted an alleged image of the phone, which (if accurate) includes many of the Nokia design hallmarks, such as a brightly colored shell and prominent rear camera. Exactly how the software differs from the 'standard' version of Android is an open question, although other companies that have forked the operating system (most notably Amazon, with its Kindle tablets) haven't been shy about modifying the user interface in radical ways. According to AllThingsD, Nokia's 'low-end mobile phone unit' is overseeing the project. 'Normandy aims to repurpose the open-source version of Android into a better entry-level smartphone than Nokia has had with its current Asha line,' the publication explained, 'which is based on the aging Series 40 operating system.' But here's the rub: Nokia's phone unit is well on its way to becoming a Microsoft subsidiary. Microsoft competes against Google in many arenas, including mobile and search. The idea of a Microsoft ancillary producing an Android-based phone to compete in lower-end markets — where cheap Android phones dominate — is liable to provoke a burst of surprised laughter from anyone in tech: surely such a project would never hit store-shelves, given Microsoft's very public backing of Windows Phone as its sole mobile OS. And yet, there's also reason to think Microsoft might actually take a chance on an alternative OS. Over the past few years, the company's legal team has cornered the majority of Android manufacturers worldwide into a stark deal: agree to pay a set fee for every Android device produced, or face a costly patent-infringement lawsuit. As a result of that arm-twisting, Microsoft already makes quite a bit of money off Android (more, perhaps, than it earns selling Windows Phone), which could acclimate it to the idea of taking the leap and actually selling Android devices."
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Nokia Still Experimenting With Android Smartphone

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  • by recoiledsnake ( 879048 ) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @12:37PM (#45661013)

    The simple explanation is that the Nokia acquisition is not complete yet, and in the interim Nokia legally needs to act like the acquisition may not happen. This is a project that can take fruit if, for some reason the MS acquisition fails. It will be killed off if the takeover goes through, as simple as that.

    • by Desler ( 1608317 )

      Don't you dare bring facts into this!!

      Seriously, only a delusional idiot would believe the scenario that Nervall's Lobster has concocted.

    • high tech. That is the simplest explanation.

      MSFT already makes more from android through its patent racketeering operation than from the sale of lumias. Nokia would have an advantage using android as it would not have to pay that protection money to a third party. MSFT can embrace and extend android like anyone else and it is a hedge against any possibility of failure for windows phone though I think the chances of winphone failing are diminishing over time.

      This is just how business works. Apple made

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Do you also believe that Microsoft secretly makes PS4 games as a hedge for the Xbone? This is simply a leftover project from before the acquisition started. Microsoft won't release an Android phone. Saying they'll make one simply because they get patent royalties is a huge leap of logic.

        • Yes Sony and MSFT could do exactly that...not likely directly but I could see subsidiaries of each doing that. It has happened before. Atari made games for coleco and vice versa and Mattel ported some of their intellivision games to atari and vice versa in the 1980s at the height of their business. It could happen again through game publishing subsidiaries easily and in fact is a very likely future scenario.

    • You're probably right. Question does stand, though, as to what Microsoft intend to do with Nokia's low-end phone market. S40 as an OS definitely feels end-of-life compared to low-end Android, and lord knows Windows Phone isn't up to the task on low-end hardware. So do Microsoft:
      a) Keep S40 alive and continue development on it to keep up with the competition
      b) Attempt to engineer their own Windows-based entry level phone
      c) Do an Apple and abandon the entry-level of the market entirely

      My money is on c) person

      • MSFT can't afford to abandon the entry level market. All those low end phones that teenagers can afford on their prepaid plans all being loaded with Android. Later getting enough money for a plush smartphone.

        Go with the platform and apps they know OR buy into an unknown platform and hope it's better than the one they are used to.

        Why are ipod touches relatively cheap?

      • or rather:
        d) Leave s40 exactly as it is.

        The people who buy this do NOT want a smartphone. Just a simple phone that is cheap (around the £10-£20 mark), durable, makes calls and text, long battery life, easy to use, and maybe have a torch/fm radio, at the most have bluetooth. There is NO need to replace S40, it is not broken.

    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      want the real explanation?

      why, the go-getter fuckfaces were ru(i)nning the (smartphone) devices platform only the featurephone wing was left with real engineers trying to come up with real solutions(consequently it was/is the wing doing real grunt selling).

      the devices(or whatever they want to call themselves this year) wing who did the higher end stuff concentrated always on two things: the next model and infighting about who gets to choose the contracts for it(which is what provided exits for execs, basica

    • by clarkn0va ( 807617 ) <> on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @02:36PM (#45662317) Homepage
      No, this is actually a brilliant move on MS/Nokia's part. If it takes off, imagine the Android royalties they'll collect from selling their own phone!
      • by mshor ( 658252 )
        Or they could refuse to pay themselves the royalties, and then sue themselves.
      • If speculations/rumors are correct MS generally collects more royalties from Android phones being sold, than their own OS. It might be success :P

    • Nokia retained rights to their brand and logo, only restricted from using logo for 2 years (until 2015). Nokia could introduce an android phone in the near future if they want to.
  • by js3 ( 319268 ) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @12:39PM (#45661027)

    The summary is incorrect. Low end windows phone are far more competitive with Android on the low end spectrum that high end. If anything, they would be making competing high end Android phones (which again seems completely unlikely).

    • by Missing.Matter ( 1845576 ) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @12:44PM (#45661059)
      Correct: []

      tl;dr: Thanks to phones like the Lumia 520, Windows Phone is breached 10% in the EU5, and is beating or growing faster than iOS in countries like Italy, Spain, and France.
      • by iserlohn ( 49556 )

        They are marketed as cheap but respectable smartphones for people that do not need that much from their phones. So from a strategy point of view, this announcement is a bit of a question mark.

        • by bazorg ( 911295 )

          I see them on sale in the UK and they are sold as smartphones in general, rather than cheap but respectable. I think sometimes people don't notice that this is a market that is growing a lot, has a lot of potential for more people to buy devices and apps and the market can still change radically from one year to the next.
          Just because Nokia and Microsoft were late to launch something that compares well to iPhones does not mean that as of 2013 it's all hopeless for them. There's plenty of people in the whole

      • I believe iOS had a marketshare decline compared to last year. Growing faster than that doesn't sound too impressive

      • tl;dr new platform starting with 0% marketshare has market share growing faster than established company.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Low end windows phone are far more competitive with Android on the low end spectrum that high end.

      Only when they are subsidised, and have a massive advertising campaign. Where throwing away the reputation of company once twice the size of Apple and four times the size of Samsung under the bus.

      Going forward they don't have this luxury, have stabbed their third party manufactures in the front, while beating them with Android patents, and charging..yes CHARGING them to use their OS.

      In short I notice the Moto G undercutting the bottom end Windows Phones... and its a hell of a phone.

  • by bazmail ( 764941 ) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @12:49PM (#45661097)
    Give that Nokia is an empty husk of a company whose only real asset is hundreds of patents. They are a giant of a patent troll in the making. This Android story is designed to make them look like innovators in front of the EU and other critics and watchdogs.
    • Honestly, if Nokia was an amurican company I doubt the tone in /. would be quite the same. Nokia's network side is making a profit, they're selling the mobile branch so them doing a low-end project in Android, the OS of 1000+ devices, is supposed to be an evil plot of some kind? You can call them a patent troll when they start trolling, thus far they've been almost too gentle compared to the Samsung/Apple/etc. which keep slinging mud at each other over this and that.

    • Ever heard about NSN? (100% Nokia since last summer) Or ever heard about Navteq? (100% Nokia since 2007, 80% Market share in map data for car navigation systems) Or the efforts for self-driving cars, together with Mercedes and other biggies in the automotive department? Heard about this project called "Tizen", whose maps are powered by Nokia Maps (HERE Maps) instead of Google? Or maybe you heard about the Kiendle Fire, which uses HERE Map data, because Amazon doesn't want to be too dependant on Google servi
  • Its not often discussed in a sensible manor, but Nokia's minor(if I am being kind) success in the smartphone market was with new customers at the very bottom end of the where Apple promoting journalists may describe as being filled landfill android, but never was. If they has a competitive OS(they don't, haven't and probably won't) instead of competing only price and quality(ish, but in reputation definitely) hardware . Ironically the Moto G was launched this month (I've used it its stock andro

    • by DogDude ( 805747 )
      I disagree. I think Windows Phone 8 is really good, actually. Most reviews I've read have said the same. I think you're completely wrong.
      • I agree, it's not that it isn't good - in fact I think it's very good - but the problem is the same as BB10, WebOS, Ubuntu Phone, Sailfish OS, Meego, etc... have which is that it isn't marginally better than the incumbents. You can't disrupt an established market with a product that isn't disruptive... ...which is why I use an iPhone I guess ;)
  • Seems like it might be part of a soft-sell strategy to Android diehards. Microsoft has been opening up a lot to the FOSS community in the past few years and this makes at least a bit of sense. Modify the OS to have tight integration with relevant MS services while still allowing installation of apps from the Android marketplace... Then make money back on SkyDrive subscriptions or whatever the heck they're trying to push on people now.
    • by Desler ( 1608317 )

      Riiight. Because after spending billions in marketing and billions to buy Nokia they're going to release a phone with a competitor's OS. How delusional are you?

      • How is what I said delusional? Windows RT was/is a flop, the world's largest PC gaming platform is moving to Linux, and Windows Phone still has a single-digit market share. Meanwhile Microsoft has been partnering with Xamarin and making contributions to the Linux kernel... admittedly all of these moves have arguably been to futher adoption of their own (semi) proprietary products, but they're still demonstrating some kind of commitment to platforms other than their own. No need for an ad-hominem attack.
      • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        Competitors OS? I dont think you have a clue as to how the world operates....

        • by Desler ( 1608317 )

          Yes, Google and Android are direct competitors to Microsoft and Windows Phone. In what universe are you living in that they are not?

          • I would consider Amazon and Google direct competitors. Yet this does not stop Amazon to make use of Android, while replacing all Google services with their own...
      • by Bert64 ( 520050 )

        Having the OS is no longer profitable, MS are already considering giving windows phone away.
        The profit is to be made in selling services, and a phone running android but which defaults to their services is likely to be a lot more profitable than one running a niche platform with a tainted branding.

  • Microsoft already makes a ton of money from Android.
  • Dear Nokia.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @04:14PM (#45663325) Homepage

    Stop being complete idiots. Release your flagship and 1 step down smartphones with a clean Android on them instead of Windows.

    You will almost instantly become the #1 android phone overnight. The hardware on the Lumia 1520 is an incredible Nokia quality phone. It's HTC-ONE level of refinement, it's just stuck with a crap operating system that nobody wants.

    You have the hardware already done, just unlock the bootloader and delivers some docs about the hardware to the public and let the Cyanogenmod guys port Android to it almost overnight.

    This is a no brainer, you can start climbing again back to the top of the cellphone maker pile within 60 days if you simply do this ONE thing and stop crippling your hardware.

  • I'd like to propose a name for this new venture, "Windows Alternative: Nokia + Google Android", or WANGdroid .

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