Android on Nokia: Will the X-factor revive fortunes

The Finnish manufacturer, Nokia, who once ruled the mobile phone market, has been virtually put out of business as a result of Apple’s Innovation and Samsung’s branding. With over a billion sales last year, the smartphone market makes up almost 55% of the total worldwide mobile phone market. Nokia’s share is a dismal single digit figure, even behind some local Chinese brands. So on the last Monday in February, 2014, at The World Mobile Congress in Barcelona, Nokia chose to grace the occasion with launch of its long promised range of android based smartphones. Unfortunately the launch of the Nokia X series android device was seen by many as a desperate attempt at a revival.So, let us dig deep into this latest offering from Nokia.

It is targeting the emerging markets like Latin America, Asia-pacific, Middle East and African sub-continent with a very affordable $109 tag price for the top variant. The Nokia X series of smartphones works on AOSP, i.e. Android Open Source Project. Yes, you heard it right! It’s not the traditional Android, but a slightly modified version which also upholds the integrity of the Nokia device’s new daddy – Microsoft Corp. Though it runs on an android OS, it looks vaguely reminiscent of the Windows phone. The home screen wears the traditional windows phone look and comes preloaded with Microsoft apps such as Office 365, Outlook, Skype and Bing. The trademark play store has also been ignored and replaced by Nokia’s in-house app store. BBM and OneDrive have also been added to the plethora of pre-installed apps.

For a company soon-to-be owned by Microsoft and the architect of the original operating system, moving to Android is almost an “admission of failure”. Though almost humiliating, the decision of a strategic reversal should work in favour of Nokia in the current scenario. It makes complete business sense not to sit back and bask in past glory but replicate the new money-making model. Both Windows and Nokia were inconspicuous by their absence from the super sellable range of android smartphones, a range that made up to 78% of total smartphone sales last year.

With a $7.2 billion acquisition and the introduction of Android OS on its devices, finally it’s all happening for Nokia, a brand which was very trusted, the most popular, and synonymous with mobile phone technology until 5 years ago. The old horse has come out of its stable, one last time, running its penultimate race on a green course (green is the colour of android logo). Will it cross the final hurdle and come out victorious? Only time will tell!