Since Microsoft is about to buy Nokia for $US7 billion, a lot of people will see this as bad news for Microsoft.
After all, if Windows Phone was doing well, then why would Nokia need Android?
And there’s no question that if Windows Phone was a smash hit, this wouldn’t be happening.
But, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop stressed that an Android-based phone is good for Microsoft.
He makes a fairly convincing case.
In short, Elop says a cheap Android-based phone will get a lot of people using Nokia and Microsoft services.
On stage in Barcelona at MWC, a mobile industry conference, Elop called the new NokiaX phones “feeder” phones that will be a “gateway to Microsoft.” He also said the phone “takes people to Microsoft’s cloud, not Google’s cloud.”
Here’s how Nokia’s line works: At the high-end it has Lumia phones. In the mid-to-low end, it has X phones. At the very low end it has Asha phones.
The X phones will sell for 89-109 Euros, or, $US122-$149. Elop says the X phones are targeting “high growth” markets, which is a popular euphemism at MWC for developing countries like China, India, and so on.
The X phones run on a forked version of Android. This allows the phone to use Android apps, but it looks nothing like Android. Importantly, Elop says it doesn’t have any Google services.
The X phones use Nokia maps, and Microsoft’s cloud services.
The idea is for people to buy the cheaper X phones, fall in love with the Nokia experience, then eventually upgrade to the full Windows Phone experience on Lumia phones.
Since the phones will use Microsoft’s OneDrive, and other Microsoft services, Elop says this phone will introduce the “next billion people to Microsoft.”
It’s not that bad of an idea! Microsoft needs to try something new in mobile, and this plan from Nokia might be the trick.
The only catch, of course, is that if people like the X line, and all the Android apps, they’ll be disappointed when the jump to Windows-based Lumia phones that don’t have Android apps.
But, that’s a problem for another day! For now, Nokia is taking a chance on a low-cost Android phone. And it should. Microsoft needs to try something different in mobile.
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