With just about a fortnight remaining for Nokia’s MWC press conference, more details are leaking about its first Android smartphone, codenamed Normandy and likely to be called the Nokia X. The latest update is coming from a Vietnamese online retailer who jumped the gun and put up the Nokia X along with its pricing. While there is no way to confirm whether the pricing is legit or not, the $110 price tag is in the range of what BGR India has been hearing for a while. The listing seems to have been taken down now but not before getting snapped by the folks at WMPoweruser.
Like BGR India reported earlier, the idea behind the Asha on Linux (AoL) project is not to undermine entry-level Lumia smartphones like the Lumia 520 and Lumia 525 but help Nokia compete with Android vendors in price segments that Windows Phone smartphones haven’t been able to touch. Initially, the Normandy would fill the gap between its top-end full-touch Asha smartphone and the Lumia 520. However, eventually Nokia’s plan is to bring AoL devices to even lower price points.
Nokia is utilizing Google’s Android Open Source Platform (AOSP) that does not come with any Google’s services. Smartphone vendors pay a license fee to Google to get services like the Google’s Play app store, Google Maps, Gmail and others. However, Nokia won’t use any of Google’s services and will instead implement its own and Microsoft services, which means it won’t have to pay Google any licensing fee. Nokia has already developed its own app store for the platform and sources tell BGR India that they already have most of the top 100 apps on the store. Nokia will replace Google Maps with its own HERE maps while Gmail will be replaced by Microsoft’s Outlook and Google search by Bing. The device will also have Skype pre-installed, which would replace Google Hangouts.
Nokia and Microsoft hope that devices like the Normandy will be bought by first-time smartphone users, hopefully taking into account Nokia’s brand value and trust that still exists in the entry and mid-level devices in emerging markets. The promise of “Android” could help Nokia target those potential buyers who are not considering Windows Phone, which till now took Nokia completely out of the picture. Even for Microsoft, this meant a lost opportunity of making its services available to possibly first-time Internet users, who embrace Google services that are present by default on Android smartphones and stick to its ecosystem.
While promising Android, Nokia has smartly designed AoL’s user interface (UI) to closely mimic Windows Phone. The premise was that when these users eventually upgrade from Normandy, they should be more inclined to go for a Lumia due to the familiar UI than stick to Android and go for a rival’s smartphone. Assuming they were first-time smartphone and Internet users, they would have embraced Nokia and Microsoft’s services than Google’s, which could also push them to a Lumia than say a mid-end Galaxy smartphone when they plan to upgrade.