Nokia X is no more, it has been confirmed.
The Android–based series of phones are being replaced by devices using Windows Phone, after Microsoft’s CEO revealed the news to staff yesterday.
It’s not a hugely surprising move, especially as Microsoft is desperate to use its acquisition of Nokia to create unified hardware and software that isn’t reliant on third parties.
Having a Google product in its line-up, even if it is one that uses a heavily tweaked version of Android, is simply not going to fit with Satya Nadella’s new strategy.
But is it really a smart move?
Microsoft revealed earlier this year that it was killing-off licensing fees in India for two key phone-makers.
But if it wants to compete properly in the budget space, especially in developing markets, it’s going to need to ditch these fees globally.
Having a suite of Android devices circumvented this problem.
It allowed Nokia, and by extension Microsoft, to develop phones using Android (which costs nothing) and to piggyback on Google’s code so developers could produce apps more easily.
In using Android, it was just doing the same as any savvy mobile-manufacturer looking to break into these lucrative territories.
Why would third parties pay for Windows Phone when you can use Android for free?
The problem surely now comes with Microsoft trying to market its own X range using Windows Phone.
The platform is hardly doing huge numbers like Android, so why should users switch and miss out on access to essential apps that may not have been developed for a rival OS?
Surely it makes sense for punters to stick with Android, when they know they can get it cheap and that they can access thousands of add–ons to boot.
If Microsoft is intent on bringing smartphones to ‘the next billion’ (a lame marketing slogan if ever there was one) it can’t rely on its Nokia division, and specifically X devices using Windows Phone, alone.
It’s going to have to make Windows Phone free for manufacturers and let its apps and ads make the money, just like Google does with Android.
The alternative is Nokia X devices making up a tiny segment of the market while Android marches on, free and easy for mobile makers to use and build into their budget devices.
That’s a future neither Nadella, nor former Nokia CEO turned Microsoft devices boss Stephen Elop, want.
But it could well be the reality if they don’t make further strides to loosen up Windows Phone while at the same time binning Android.