When news first leaked about Nokia’s plans to release a series of budget phones using a tweaked version of Google Android, there was plenty of chatter about where they would fit into Microsoft’s plans for the Finnish company.
Surely the firm paying billions for Nokia would not countenance selling a product that used Google’s OS?
After all, wasn’t the whole point of the deal to unify hardware and software and make Windows Phone an easier sell?
Fast forward a few months and not only is Nokia X a reality, it now seems Microsoft is gearing up to sell a ‘Nokia by Microsoft’ Lumia phone kitted-out with Google Android.
So, what exactly is Microsoft planning? And is this its smartest move ever?
Or a foolish one which will kill off Windows Phone for good?
Well, for starters we can be clear that such a device would never have been considered by Microsoft’s former CEO Steve Ballmer.
Ballmer was so in thrall to the Windows brand that he couldn’t see beyond it.
Current chief Satay Nadella seems far more open to such ideas.
His decision to release Office for iPad was inspired and showed the company was willing to move away from its hemmed-in approach under Ballmer.
Microsoft’s plans will probably involve using a forked version of Android, as seen with the Nokia X.
This would allow it to use Google’s back-end, but not rely on the Big G’s suite of services, which it could substitute with its own tools, such as Here Maps, Xbox Live and Bing.
At the same time, users will be able to access Android apps.
Windows Phone users are still left trailing when it comes to add–ons and this kind of phone would make Microsoft more attractive while giving punters the chance to download the best new apps.
But on the other hand, this signals Microsoft admitting defeat for Windows Phone.
It wanted to build and control everything and now it’s turning to one of its sworn tech enemies for help.
No matter how it dresses it up, this will be seen as a victory for Android and another nail in the coffin of its critically acclaimed but commercially shaky operating system.
Ultimately though, if it means more sales of devices and more people plugging into its web services, Microsoft won’t mind too much.
The idea of a Lumia Android phone seemed so outlandish even a year ago that it was always dismissed, by Nokia staff and keen tech-watchers alike. Now, the game has changed.