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Nokia, which is currently in the process of being acquired by Microsoft, is supposedly hard at work on developing a smartphone for Google’s Android operating system, according to various reports.
Citing multiple sources The Verge claims the device in question is codenamed Normandy and would run on a forked version of Android, similar to what Amazon has done for its Kindle Fire tablets. This means that while the foundation of the smartphone’s operating system would use a stripped down version of Android, Nokia would have complete control over the apps and services offered, as well as the user interface.
Using a forked version of Android makes perfect sense as it means the proposed device could leverage Microsoft Bing for search, Outlook for email and Skype for video calling and messaging as well as Nokia’s Here for mapping and navigation rather the default Google equivalents. At the same time, while Normandy users wouldn’t have access to Google’s official app store, called Play, they would be able to use other Android app markets.
"If Amazon can use custom Android to drive its ecosystem, there’s no objective reason why Microsoft/Nokia can’t do the same…” says Ian Fogg of IHS Suppli in an article in The Guardian about Nokia’s Android possibilities. “Nokia’s biggest challenges with use of Android behind the scenes are perceptions: external to market and internal at Microsoft.”
Nokia flirted with Android a few years ago, but former CEO Stephen Elop decided to go with Windows Phone over Google’s mobile device platform instead. This, in retrospect, appears to have been a good decision.
Nokia is now the top provider of Windows-run smartphones, releasing a number of highly regarded handsets, such as the Lumia 1520, in the process. And, thanks mainly to Nokia’s adoption of the OS, Windows Phone is now the number 3 smartphone platform worldwide, moving ahead of BlackBerry over the past year. True, it’s a distant third, way behind Android and iOS, but it is progress for both companies.
The Verge reports Nokia’s Normandy smartphone is slated for release in 2014. While you would think there has to be some uncertainty of this actually happening when Microsoft’s acquisition of the cell phone maker closes, as Microsoft would likely want Windows Phone to run on Nokia smartphones at all levels, you never know what could happen in the end.
The promise of success in an area where Nokia has a proven track record may be just the recipe to finally get Android on the company’s smartphone menu.