Reports have emerged claiming Nokia had been testing Android on its Lumia handsets before the sale of its Devices & Services division to Microsoft. The company reportedly had Android running on its Lumia phones and was strongly considering dumping Windows Phone before the Microsoft deal happened out of nowhere.
Android Was Up and Running On Lumia
According to a report by The New York Times, getting Android to run on the Lumia handsets was fairly easy for Nokia. Microsoft executives were even aware of the project, however it was not part of the acquisition negotiations. Both Microsoft and Nokia have declined to comment on the news.
Nokia entered into a partnership with Microsoft in 2011, wherein the Finnish manufacturer would ship its smartphones with Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS. Nokia had the option of exiting the partnership by the end of 2014. It is possible that with the alliance failing to gain any considerable market share, Nokia was actively considering switching to Android instead.
The company has been criticized for choosing Windows Phone and not Android for its range of smartphones. Android accounts for almost three-fourth of all smartphone sales worldwide. Many speculate that Nokia may have performed better had it chosen Android instead. The company’s smartphone market share dropped from more than 30% back in 2010 to 3% in 2013.
Nokia’s previous CEO – Stephen Elop, has previously defended the company’s decision of choosing Windows Phone. According to Elop, Nokia anticipated (and rightly so, in retrospect) that one manufacturer would come to dominate the Android ecosystem soon. With Nokia already late in joining the smartphone race, the company was under pressure to offer something different to carriers and consumers. Windows Phone, at that time, seemed the ideal option.
“Bringing something different to the table was important to attract both carriers and consumers” – Stephen Elop, ex CEO, Nokia
Nokia Acquisition to Save Windows Phone?
Nokia always had a ‘Plan B’ if its Windows Phone alliance with Microsoft failed. Interim CEO Risto Siilasmaa had even gone on record to say this. On the other hand, Microsoft’s CEO – Peter Klien had said that Microsoft had no plan B if its mobile ambitions failed.
As luck would have it – both companies saw their primary plans failing. While Nokia resorted to its Plan B after witnessing a disaster in the Lumia-Windows Phone marriage, Microsoft was left with nothing to do when it saw its Windows Phone ambitions dying out because of Nokia’s decision.
Nokia accounts for 80% of all Windows Phone sales worldwide. If Nokia were to quit on Windows Phone, it would be a disaster of epic proportions for Microsoft. While it may seem extravagant and desperate, the decision to buy out Nokia simply to save Windows Phone was the only, and the right, thing to do for Microsoft.
To paraphrase Saito’s famous airline dialogue from Inception:
Now with the company under Microsoft’s control, it’s certain the Android project will be killed off.