Why would Nokia make an Android-powered smart phone?

There's news today that Nokia is building a smart phone, code-named 'Normandy,' that would run on Google's Android OS. 

Reuters
Nokia is reportedly working on an Android phone. Pictured: German Chancellor Angela Merkel types on her Nokia slide mobile.

At least one publication is filing this one in the "Department of Unthinkable Products." 

But according to the (normally reliable) tech site The Verge, Nokia is building an Android-powered smart phone with the code name of "Normandy." This would be odd for a number reasons, chief amongst them that Nokia is currently in the process of being folded in Microsoft – a company that competes directly against Android with its Window Phone OS. 

"Multiple sources have revealed to The Verge that Normandy is designed as an Asha equivalent to push low-cost devices with access to more traditional smartphone apps – something the company has struggled to achieve for its Series 40-powered Asha line," Tom Warren of The Verge wrote in a post today. "Nokia’s effort is similar to Amazon’s own use of Android, allowing the company to customize it fully for its own use." 

Asha is a line of Nokia phones aimed at budget-minded consumers; if Warren is correct, "Normandy" – which would eventually get a more consumer-friendly name – would presumably replace Asha in emerging markets. 

But is this the real deal? Not everyone is convinced. Harry McCracken of Time says he "can’t come up with any logical rationale" for an Android-powered Nokia phone, and David Meyer of GigaOM speculates the whole project will be canned once the Nokia/Microsoft merger is complete.

"Windows Phone is actually doing better and better each quarter, particularly outside the U.S. Why? Because," Mr. Meyer writes, "we now have cheaper Windows Phones, notably the Nokia Lumia 520. Why would Microsoft not want to simply extend that trend, creating Windows Phones that push further into the low end of the market?"

For now, we're inclined to agree. 

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