Pat Pilcher: Nokia had an Android phone


Sometimes speculating how things would've been if history was just a little different can be a fascinating exercise. Take Nokia for instance. Since striking a deal with Microsoft in 2011 to exclusively run Windows Phone, the Nokia brand has effectively become synonymous with Microsoft Windows Phone OS.

What if Nokia had of launched a line of smartphones running Android? This tantalising possibility was speculated on at great length when Lumia smartphones running Windows Phone first hit the streets.

Now it appears according to the NY Times, that Nokia had indeed been experimenting with an Android Lumia powered smartphone. It turns out that Nokia's engineers did have Lumia handsets running the Android operating system months before discussions took place that eventually led to Microsoft plunking down a huge wedge of cash for Nokia's handset business.

Based on this it is most probable that some sort of Nokia Lumia Android-stein handset was in existence during mid to late 2012. Now with Nokia having been acquired for US$7.2 billion by Microsoft, the possibility of the Android OS on Nokia hardware is almost certainly next to nil.

Some smartphone purists may be a little shocked at Nokia's seemingly disloyal actions but the reality is that when shareholders have to be kept happy, having a plan B makes a shedload of sense.

Getting Android up and running on a Lumia shouldn't have been too tricky a task (according to the NY Times, Nokia engineers say it wasn't terribly difficult) and an Android-stein phone it might have helped arrest Nokia's declining fortunes in the smartphone space. That Nokia had the option to exit the deal in 2014 probably also helped kick things along nicely too.

So what could have Nokia's fortunes looked like if they'd opted for a place in the Android ecosystem?

At the moment with Windows Phone, Nokia is a big fish in a small pond. The Android ocean however could've been another story altogether. Not only would they have faced the uphill challenge of building mindshare around them being an Android player, but they'd have also faced competition from Samsung, HTC and a host of other players who have long had a sizeable presence in the Android Space.

One thing that is certain, any move to Android by Nokia would have had huge consequences for Microsoft as well as Nokia.

A Nokia Android handset could have effectively signalled the death knell of Windows Phone as a platform as Nokia is estimated to account for anything up to 80% of all Windows Phone hardware sold.

The effect for Nokia could have also been dramatic provided they were able to transfer their none too insignificant mindshare into handset sales as Nokia's current estimated share of the smartphone market is a relatively paltry 3%, not to mention the fact that the Android OS accounts for at least 75% of all smartphones sold.

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