Nokia and Microsoft recently entered a deal that would involve Nokia’s smartphone business being sold off to Microsoft, as well as the rights to their patents for the next decade. Microsoft paid about $7.2 billion for this. Nokia had been rumored to be working on an Android phone, but no one thought they’d release it after the deal, as Microsoft would then be expected by consumers to support an Android phone. Android is a huge competitor for Microsoft’s Windows Phone line, so asking them to do so would be a spiteful move for Nokia. However, Microsoft’s not the only one who could be displeased with this, Google could be as well. Nokia’s Android phones are based on a branch off of Android, and look nothing like the stock Android OS. In fact, it looks like Windows. Google’s been trying to cut down on fragmentation, but heavily customized versions of the OS get in the way of that. Nokia won’t even use Google’s own Google Play store, but will instead use their own store for apps. Nokia’s not making friends here, and the chances it’ll turn out to be profitable are slim.
Microsoft may decide to cancel support for these phones as soon as they gain ownership of Nokia’s smartphone division. However, doing so will disappoint any customers who bought these phones, and Microsoft may not be able to get them to start using Windows phones so easily. Although the close visual resemblance between Nokia’s version of Android and Windows may make that switch easier, some may prefer the apps and features available on Android that aren’t on Windows. Joe Belfiore, who’s in charge of mobile phones at Microsoft, had this to say regarding Nokia’s announcement, “They’ll do some things we’re excited about, and some things we’re less excited about”. That sounds like thinly veiled anger to me.
The phones themselves aren’t nearly as exciting as what almost looks like the mockery of two tech giants. These are mid-range phones, targeted more towards budget conscious consumers and emerging markets. There’s the Nokia X, which features a 480×800 resolution on a 4″ screen, a 1ghz dual core processor, 512mb of ram, 4GB of storage, SD expansion, a 5 megapixel camera and a 1500mAh battery. That makes it a slightly low end smartphone. There’s the Nokia X+, which is the same phone, but with more memory and storage. Then there’s the Nokia XL, which has a 5″ screen and adds a 2 megapixel front facing camera. The Nokia X will cost users €89, the X+ will cost €99, and the €109 will get you the Nokia XL. At current exchange rates, that’s about $122.24, $135.98, and $149.71, respectively.
There is still a slight chance that Microsoft will allow Nokia to continue selling these phones, but it is quite slim. Why if they could instead sell their own low cost Windows phones in the same markets? Nokia thinks the move will be profitable for Microsoft, but it seems to me that Microsoft would rather promote Windows, even if they have to do so on low cost devices. The real question is: will customers even want phones that won’t be updated, running a heavily modified version of a smartphone OS, or will those details not matter to their intended customers?