In September, Nick Wingfield wrote this article on the New York Times that set the tech world ablaze. That Nokia had indeed, despite repeated denials, been working secretly on an Android smartphone as a back up plan should Windows Phone have failed. Pegged on internal sources at Nokia, the story went undisputed by Nokia and of course Microsoft. However, the story save for just reminding us that Android is a dominant force and would’ve attracted one of the most innovative mobile phone companies on earth, it added little hope to our undying appetite of a Nokia Android device. All hope was gone after news of Microsoft’s takeover of Nokia’s handset business first broke out. It was all gone. There’s reason to be hopeful again even though everything is in doubt thanks to Project N.
Project N, the term first outed by @evleaks, is what Nokia is said to be using internally to describe the device rumoured to be codenamed Normandy.
The prospects of a Nokia Android device are just exciting. For those of us who have always loved Nokia’s design prowess and the ability to churn out not only beautiful but durable and reliable mobile devices over the years, we know what we’ve missing on Android so far: a Nokia device. While I won’t like to get into details about what is good and bad about Windows Phone as a mobile platform, no one can dispute the fact that Nokia devices remain as beautiful and durable as ever before. They are the same attractive pieces of plastic with a matte finish.
With Microsoft pushing through with its acquisition of the Finnish company’s mobile phone business after its shareholders gave the greenlight, it is hard to imagine the folks at Redmond allowing such a move like a device running a rival mobile OS under its nose but it is the news that the device won’t be a high end bird but rather a mid-range (almost low end) device aimed at fitting in where the Asha range of feature phones (for some reasons I don’t understand Nokia prefers to cal the Ashas smartphones) fail to capture the imagination of the intended market. This is one clever strategy since it will attract all those looking for a budget Android device that is not an Asha. By hooking them to a Nokia ‘Normandy’ device, they can easily be lured to Windows Phone and Microsoft’s fold. That theory sounds nice on paper but I am curious to see how things will go if indeed there’s a Nokia Android device in the pipeline that will eventually see the light of day. With notable apps like Skype (Microsot being touted as the Android apps that will be available on the rare device, it is easy to see how Microsoft may as well close one eye and let the Normandy be. After all the Lumia 2520 tablet exists despite previous rumours of reports citing sources who said Microsoft would stop any efforts by Nokia to release a Windows tablet that will compete with its Surface tablets for the same market. Then again, the 2520 is a Windows device through and through and the script at play in that case is different.
The prospects of Project N being real raise a few questions. What becomes of Nokia’s own current lineup of budget devices like the best selling Lumia 520 and the newly unveiled Lumia 525. What of the rumoured RM-977? Is encouraging competition or targeting low spending device buyers the strategy? If what @evleaks leaked some time back as the Nokia Normandy is what we expect to be an Android device then I have my doubts. That could as well be a “grown up” Asha. I am overly skeptical of Project N (if at all it exists) but time to wait and see what comes of it is all we have.