Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Nokia to intro first Android phone at Mobile World Congress

The saga of the Nokia "Normandy" Android phone is about to conclude. According to a Monday Wall Street Journal report, Nokia plans to unveil its first-ever Android phone at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which begins on Feb. 24.

The news -- and unveiling -- comes as Microsoft and Nokia near the completion of their deal in which Microsoft will acquire the Finnish company's mobile unit.

Although it would seem to be a strange development, a Microsoft product sporting Android, as we reported earlier, it appears that Nokia has taken the Kindle Fire approach to Android. The OS is heavily forked, with leaked pictures of the device showing a phone that looks a lot like a Windows Phone-based Lumia model.

The UI even resembles Windows Phone, with what seem to be live tiles.

In addition, the new phone won't promote some of the key Google features available on Android, such as Gmail and even the Google Play Store. Instead, phone will come with pre-installed with a suite of services created by Nokia and Microsoft, including Here maps and Mix Radio. There will be a Nokia app store with Android apps, though it is unclear if they will curate the apps as Amazon.com does with the Amazon Appstore.

"Normandy" is seen as a replacement for Asha, the company's OS based on the aging Series 40 operating system. Nokia reportedly hopes that "Normandy" will produce better entry-level smartphone sales and response than Asha.

That focus on entry-level phones could be the key to Microsoft's acceptance of "Normandy." Many believed that once the Microsoft / Nokia deal was complete, Microsoft would simply kill "Normanday." That may not be the case.

Windows Phone isn't an OS that works all that well on low-cost phones because of the software's hardware technical requirements. Sources say that Microsoft has been unable to get Windows Phone to work on Asha-level devices.

Thus, this version of Android could be the solution, particularly if Microsoft and Nokia get the suite of apps to be such that Google and the Play Store aren't a word on everyone's tongue.

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