Normandy Serves as Nokia’s Android Beachhead

by Matt Klassen on December 13, 2013

Nokia may have launched its own secret Android invasion, one that may surprise Microsoft as it prepares for its takeover of Nokia’s mobile division. According to tech site, The Verge, Nokia is quietly working on a new Android smartphone project, codenamed ‘Normandy,’ aimed squarely at the lower cost budget end of the smartphone spectrum.

According to sources, the phone features a ‘forked’ variant of Android, one that is not linked directly to Google’s Android platform, much like Amazon employs on its Kindle Fire series. “The low-cost smartphone is the growing volume segment market in both emerging and developing markets,” Jim McGregor, principal analyst at Tirias Research, told TechNewsWorld. “[Nokia] would have a better chance with Android because of the larger app base, but it’s a critical part of the market that no handset vendor can afford to ignore.”

While undoubtedly the right move for Nokia to regain some traction in the global mobile market, the optics of this ‘Normandy’ project are strange to say the least, given that Microsoft is poised to take control of Nokia’s mobile division and given the partnership between the two to bolster the latter’s Windows mobile platform.

When Nokia first partnered with Microsoft to push the Windows mobile OS all sorts of questions were raised about Nokia’s ability to regain lost ground in the mobile market while backing what still is only a middling competitor compared to Android and iOS. The better choice, I said at the time, would clearly have been Android, as it would give Nokia a larger user base, access to a leading app market, and the ability to lower costs.

But instead Nokia hooked its cart squarely to Microsoft, a choice, I predicted at the time, which would inexorably lead to Microsoft acquiring Nokia, either in whole or in part, once it became clear Nokia couldn’t go it alone with the Windows mobile OS.

While this announcement is a clear sign that Nokia hasn’t given up in the mobile market while it awaits its inevitable takeover by Microsoft, the timing and the optics of the entire project have me scratching my head. First, it seems strange to produce a competitor for Microsoft’s Windows mobile OS, particularly as it struggles to gain any significant market share. While ‘Normandy’ may not be a huge flagship smartphone, it’s aimed at a piece of the market Microsoft needs to gain traction in.

“It would be a concerning development for Microsoft, because Microsoft is looking for increasing market share of Windows Phone,” Carl Howe, vice president of data sciences research at the Yankee Group, told TechNewsWorld.

Second, it speaks volumes to Nokia’s lack of faith in the Windows mobile OS, as here, in the eleventh hour, the company has seemingly made a desperate plea to Android for some assistance.

What’s really unclear is if Microsoft has any role in this ‘Normandy’ project. Could the PC giant be looking to covertly enter the Android ecosystem through the Nokia brand, or is this simply a project Nokia has undertaken independently, one that Microsoft may very well scrap if it doesn’t come to market before the inevitable takeover?

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Written by: Matt Klassen. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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