The smartphone world usually moves too fast for second-guessing decisions. Yet we are continuously plagued by the ‘What Ifs’ behind every deal, every merger, every acquisition. Here is another one of the moments. According to a report from The New York Times, engineers at Nokia did port Android onto the Nokia Lumia phones. According to the article, a Nokia team had Android up and running on Lumia devices ‘well before’ Microsoft’and Lumia began negotiating, suggesting an early 2013 or late 2012 experiment. Microsoft knew of this confidential projects existence during the acquisition.
While the porting of Android by itself may not have been a big deal, we see folks over at XDA doing amazing things like porting Ubuntu and Android 4.3 to legacy devices with a lot less resources, it does give us a glimpse into the minds of companies. Nokia dominated the market in the pre-smartphone era with the Symbian OS. But when Android, iOS emerged, and software-hardware split began, Nokia was faced with this choice, it chose Windows OS.
Many critics have questioned their 2011 decision to become a Windows OEM. Stephen Elop said in an interview that he avoided the Android OS as he predicted that ‘one hardware manufacturer would dominate the ecosystem’, which turned out to be Samsung. Nokia proved itself a great Windows OEM, and nearly 80% of all Windows Phone devices sold were Nokia phones.
Had the $7.2 billion acquisition not occurred, Nokia had the option of backing out of the Microsoft partnership in 2014. It is conceivable that Nokia was trying out Android to consider this scenario, and it may also be the reason Microsoft spurred on the deal, to save their 80%. Nokia have also had their doubts about the Windows operating system, majorly due to slow updates, the Amber rolling out only recently. Their choice has also been critiqued due to falling market share, which fell from 32.8% in 2010 to 3% in 2013, according to the report. Android currently powers nearly 75% of all smartphones currently on the market.
Microsoft’s acquisition has likely killed all hope of an Android powered Nokia phone. This experiment may even have been a bargaining chip used by Nokia in the negotiations. Nokia has proved itself a brilliant Windows OEM, with novel devices like the Lumia 1020. Now this experiment likely stands as another reminder of what could have been.
IMAGE CREDIT Nokia Android Logo