Nokia just announced the Nokia X, X, and XL phones, three low-cost phones running on an Android-based operating system.
This is a bit of a twist since Nokia has been working with Microsoft on Windows phones since 2011. Microsoft is currently in the process of acquiring Nokia for $US7 billion.
Nokia CEO Stephen Elop announced the X phones at industry event MWC in Barcelona.
The phones use a forked version of Android, which allows users to get access to the hundreds of thousands of Android apps.
He pitched it as a good thing for Microsoft. He said the Nokia X runs Android applications, but uses Microsoft services. “It takes people to Microsoft’s cloud, not Google’s cloud,” said Elop. “Microsoft will reach people it has never talked to before.”
The Nokia X is a 4-inch phone that will cost 89 Euros, and is available immediately. The Nokia X+ will be 99 Euros, and it will have more storage. Nokia is also rolling out an XL phone, which has a 5-inch screen. The X+ and XL will be out in early Q2. The X phones will be rolling out “broadly,” but starting in “high-growth markets.”
Nokia says its primary focus is the Lumia line, which is based on the Windows Phone platform. Nokia X is a lower-end product going after developing markets.
Many people will see this as an admission that Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform isn’t working.
To cut off the sceptics, Elop emphasised that this is a good thing for Microsoft. “The X is a feeder system for Lumia,” which is the high-end Windows Phone platform. “We are deliberately using Android, but substituting Nokia services. We have Android app compatibility while introducing the next billion people to Microsoft. This is a gateway to Microsoft.”
During a Q&A with press, Elop was asked if he regrets going with Windows Phone over Android. He said no. He said that if you look around at MWC, you’ll see a lot of phone makers that went with Android, and are now struggling to differentiate.