Will Nokia Android with MS apps trip up Google?


Nokia has jumped on to the Android bandwagon with Nokia X and its two variants. The first Android-powered smartphone from the Finnish phone maker, this targets the affordable smartphone market in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe.

Based on the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), these smartphones can run Android apps and are powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor. Users do not have access to Google’s Play Store directly, because Nokia has opted out of Google's Open Handset Alliance (OLA), going with the open-source Android instead.

Android apps can be downloaded, however, from a third-party app store like Yandex. Besides, the Nokia X comes pre-loaded with a Microsoft apps like Skype, Outlook, Bing and OneDrive. There will also be Viber, Vine and Blackberry Messenger.

The opting out from Google Play Store thus is a calculated move. Nokia's Stephen Elop pointed out during the launch of X at the Mobile World Congress 2014 in Barcelona on Monday that users would be connected to Microsoft's cloud and not Google services.

Although at first it might appear as if this runs counter to Nokia's Lumia series which runs on Windows, it is actually a complementary move. Through the Nokia X, Microsoft too will be reaching out to the millions of Android users, who may eventually be weaned away from Google to Microsoft services in conjunction with Android as well as MS apps.

How successful this strategy will be remains to be seen, but the likely price of around Rs 8000 will be attractive to 'paisa vasool' users in India, who are already favourably inclined to the Nokia brand which is known for its sturdy build quality.

Worldwide, including in emerging markets, smartphones are now outselling feature phones, and and many of these migrating users are likely to go for an affordable smartphone initially. According to Gartner, 968 million smartphone units were sold in 2013 out of a total of 1.8 billion mobiles sold. India, with a 166.8 percent increase in the fourth quarter of 2013, exhibited the highest smartphone sales.

The significance of Nokia’s move becomes clearer if you read it with the growth in the Android OS market share. It now stands at 78.4% globally, while Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform is at 3.2% and BlackBerry came fourth at a marginal 1.9%. Gartner estimates that sales of Android phones alone in 2014 is expected to hit the billion mark.

The UI of Nokia X and its variants is quite similar to Windows Phone.

Both Nokia X and Nokia X+ are likely to be priced at around INR 8000. Nokia XL with a 5-inch 480X800 display, 720 pixel front camera, 768 MN RAM and 2000mAh battery is likely to be priced under INR 10,000.

The specifications are the following:

4GB internal storage, expandable support up to 32 GB

4-inch 480X800 display

1500mAh battery

Nokia X has 512MB RAM, X+ has 768MB RAM