Nokia was always rumored to be working on an Android device, and when news finally broke of a device codenamed Normandy, it was met with a lot of positive feedback. Most loyal Nokia consumers in India have been clamouring for an Android device from the Finnish manufacturer for years now, and although it has decided to go with Windows Phone, there might still be an Android device from Nokia in the near future.
From all the leaks, we have a clear idea of the Normandy device. Nokia is looking to target the low-end market with the device and not the high-end segment, as was originally assumed. The device will likely feature a 4-inch FWVGA screen, 1 GB RAM, Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 hardware and a 5MP camera along with Android 4.4.1 KitKat. The Nokia Lumia 525 price is at Rs. 10,199, and the Normandy device should be available for around the same if it does indeed launch.
It has been alleged that Nokia is using a forked version of Android on the Normandy. This means that the device would not feature Google’s Play Store, and would instead come with Nokia’s own software store for content. Traditionally, manufacturers that have offered a forked version of Android have failed to attract significant consumer attention, with Amazon being the deviation from the norm. Amazon makes a loss on each Kindle tablet sold, but recovers the amount on services. It makes sense for Nokia to go a similar route, as that would entail them to load more of their own services onto the device.
As far of the UI of the Normandy goes, it looks more like a mix of Windows Phone and Asha. A set of leaked screenshots show bold solid colors and interface elements that were seen on the Asha series of handsets. The screenshots also revealed that the device works in a dual-SIM configuration, which is a boost, considering that the low-tier Android segment in India is chock-a-block full of dual-SIM handsets.
All these rumours of an alleged Normandy device might be well and good, but a question that you must be wondering about is: Isn’t Nokia acquired by Microsoft? In a word: No. What Microsoft paid $7.2 billion for is Nokia’s handset and manufacturing divisions, which will be making the move to Microsoft this March. Other divisions are going to stay at Nokia. It is at one of these divisions that eh Android device is being designed. However, the terms of the deal mean that Nokia cannot launch any smartphones until 2023.
So how will it launch the Normandy device? The most logical move would be to launch it under a different brand name. That would involve marketing the device as well as finding new manufacturing partners, but it can be done. In addition to the Normandy device, it has been rumoured that Nokia is actively working on a host of wearable devices, like a smartwatch and smartglass. So it can launch a different brand and market these new devices under that name.
The Nokia N9 was the first device to feature Nokia’s MeeGo platform, and was the last device to do so. The N9 was a stellar handset and would have go on to become a bestseller, had Nokia not announced just a few months after the launch of the device that it would be using Windows Phone in its future handsets. This self-sabotaging move hurt MeeGo more than any threat of Android could have. MeeGo is not all forgotten, as Jolla, an organization formed by ex-Nokia designers, used a version of MeeGo to make the Sailfish ecosystem.
In hindsight, it is understandable why Nokia decided to go with Microsoft’s offering. Sales of Nokia handsets have been slowly decreasing ever since 2008, and the head honchos at Nokia must have felt the need to switch tactics to stem the tide. However, Nokia has not managed to do so, with the end result being that it had to sell its handset division to Microsoft.
However, with the Normandy device, it does not face any constraints of any kind. There is no pressure from stockholders, nor is there any threat from other manufacturers. The Android arena is clearly defined, with Samsung as the clear leader, with other vendors trying, and mostly failing, to put a dent in Samsung’s market share. Nokia is in an ideal situation to launch an Android device, as there is nothing for the manufacturer to lose. All rumors indicate an official launch sometime later this year, so we just have to wait and see if the once-stalwart manufacturer carries through with its Android ambitions.