Three years after announcing that Nokia would jump ship to Microsoft’s Windows Phone software instead of Google’s Android software, Executive Vice President Stephen Elop got on stage at the Mobile World Congress trade fair on Monday to announce a new line of mobile phones that run a modified version of Android.
The decision to come out with a new line of phones-- the Nokia X, X+ and XL—based on Android comes days ahead of Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia.
According to Mr. Elop, the market has “shifted dramatically” and the company needs to quickly address the sub-$100 category of mobile phones in "growth markets.".
According to analysts, this is Nokia's submission of the fact that buyers of low-end mobile phones in countries like India prefer an Android-based operating system over anything else.
“The X family serves a specific purpose - it is a feeder system into our Lumia line of smartphones. It also addresses the gap between Asha and Lumia," Mr. Elop said, while addressing reporters here on Monday.
The three new models rely on an open version of the Android operating system and come bundled with Nokia' and Microsoft's services-- avoiding dependence on Google's services. For instance, by using an open version of Android, Nokia doesn't depend on the Google Play app store-- it uses its own app store along with a host of other app store. It will also bundle the X range with its own music and map offerings along with Microsoft's e-mail, cloud, messaging and search services.
The Nokia X and X+, which will be released soon in Eastern Asia and Southeast Asia, are priced at 89 and 99 euros respectively. The Nokia XL, which has a bigger five inch screen, is priced at 109 euros. The specific launch dates were not disclosed.
When asked if he had "jumped ship" the wrong way with Windows Phone software three years ago, Mr. Elop replied in the negative.
"There were quite a lot of vendors... who went with Android but couldn't differentiate. What we are doing here is simple... we're building a third ecosystem along with Microsoft. We don't mind if there's overlap with our other devices," Mr. Elop said.