Nokia’s Project Normandy, the Android phone known also as Nokia X, now looks a nailed-on certainty for Mobile World Congress.
Leaked at the end of last year, the device uses a forked version of Android, much like Amazon’s Kindle Fire.
Aimed at developing markets, it’ll serve up Nokia and Microsoft services to users via Google software.
The question is, after months of wrangling, why has Nokia’s new owner, Microsoft, allowed its release.
Here are five key reasons behind the Big M’s decision to give the handset the go ahead.
1 Android is rampant
There’s simply no getting around the fact that Android rules the roost in developing countries.
The platform is number one in China and India, with 93% of handsets in the latter using Google’s platform.
Where Nokia once dominated, it’s now being owned by rivals.
Current Nokia Asha devices use an old version of Symbian, meaning app access is limited.
These once popular phones have been superseded, meaning Microsoft needs to turn to Google for help. If you can’t beat them, join them.
2 Windows Phone can’t be sold as cheaply
The simple fact is that Android is open source and free to use. That makes it relatively cheap for Nokia to develop its Normandy phone.
Making a truly budget Lumia handset using Microsoft’s Windows Phone simply won’t cut it. Such a device would be too expensive in developing markets.
Throw in the relative lack of mainstream apps on the platform and you can see why Android, albeit a tweaked version, is attractive in this case.
3 Nokia’s reputation
If Microsoft had killed Normandy, it would have also killed any chance it had of utilising the Nokia brand in these territories.
Nokia still has a massive reputation in developing markets, its budget phones having been many consumers’ first experience of mobile.
By releasing this phone and loading it with its services, it can play into that and perhaps regain lost ground.
4 The need for a foothold
Microsoft needs a foothold in China, India and Latin America. This is now the key battleground for smartphone supremacy.
Europe and the US is a lost cause for now, so a phone such as this can help people become exposed to its services, even if it’s on a phone using its biggest rivals platform.
Once it builds its reputation, it can then try and sell fancier Windows Phones. A challenge, but one it clearly wants to take on.
5 The leaks have forced its hand
All the leaks of this device would have looked crazy if Microsoft had not allowed Nokia to release it.
The fact that the press and web fanatics have seen the phone means it essentially has to hit the market.
It can show what Nokia might have done had it not sold out to Microsoft, but also prove that there’s life beyond sticking resolutely to just one platform.