Four months ago on a busy Monday morning I remember to come across an update from evleaks that Nokia might be secretly working upon an Android based device. My immediate first impression was “I hope it becomes a reality”. But there were many ifs and buts attached given the fact that Nokia’s device business had already been acquired by Microsoft at that time.
The probability was higher that “Normandy”(a code name given at that time) will never be a sibling to the Lumia and probably might never come out of womb and see the world. But after all the ifs and buts , we have seen Nokia showing its “Normandy” to the world, and that too at the biggest stage in the tech industry –Mobile World Congress 2014.
I had a briefing from Nokia team on the new phone and tried my hands on the device prior to the launch. Before I proceed on to the analysis part lets have a look briefly at the product specifications.
Nokia has launched three models in its Nokia X family running on open source version of Android: Nokia X, Nokia X+ and Nokia XL. Both Nokia X and X+ are 4 inch devices but Nokia XL is a 5 inch phone. All three are powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processor. They are using third party app stores and all the Android apps will work on it. Nokia will replace Google APIs with Nokia APIs and provide tools and support to the developers. The UI of the Nokia X family will be different from that of Lumia and it has a subset of Apps within a bigger rectangle where one can even edit or add folders for Apps. From the services perspective Nokia X family have Fast lane, Nokia Mix radio, HERE, One drive, Outlook, Turn by turn navigation and one month of free international calling on Skype. Nokia X , X+ and XL are priced at €89 ($122), €99 and €109 resp. excluding taxes. All the devices are available immediately post the launch.
I believe that this launch is going to be a smart move for both Nokia and Microsoft for the following reasons:-
1)Smartphone = Apps : Smartphones become even smarter and more valuable to consumers when used together with mobile apps. With the access to the world of Android apps, the Nokia X series will be a smarter entry level Android device. Moreover this move will target millions of entry level smartphones users for whom Android is synonymous with smartphone.
2) Wide reach of Microsoft services :-For Microsoft many might term it as an embarrassing move but lets accept the fact that Microsoft is struggling to remain relevant in the mobile world. The Nokia X series will let Microsoft services reach the low end of the smartphone market where lies a huge customer base in the emerging markets and given the fact that 90% of the demand for connecting a next billion people will come from these markets, it looks like a smart move.
3) Nokia’s Hardware experience:- Nokia’s expertise is unmatched when it comes to hardware. The solid design and amazing colors along with other hardware capabilities will definitely bring a strong value proposition when comparing Nokia’s X series to the low end smartphones and hence will give Nokia an upper hand in the low end smartphone market.
4) Untapped low-cost smartphones along with Nokia strong supply chain:- Nokia has already tasted success with its Nokia Lumia 520 and the recently-launched Nokia Lumia 525. The fact that Nokia’s X series will be even cheaper that the Lumia entry level windows smartphones give the devices a stronger case for tapping the untapped $75-$100 smartphone segment – which is itself a billion dollar market. But at the same time there will be question mark on possible cannibalization of the entry level Lumia smartphone market by the Nokia X series.
5) For Developers:- Developers who have written Android apps would be able to port them over to the new Nokia X family with minimal effort, so developers will have a parallel customer base to reach. This might enable existing Android smarphone users shift to the new Nokia X family, which otherwise would have been a tough task for Mircosoft and Nokia with its Lumia range on Windows.
6) Massive publicity:- The fact that Nokia launched its X series at MWC 14 and nature of the headline will give significant publicity to the debut, which will be discussed widely in the technology community for coming weeks
To conclude I think Nokia X series have everything in it to be a popular product among the masses. But at the same time, there are lot of hard questions today which Microsoft and Nokia might have to answer for the press. For this reason I wish them Good luck!