Back in December, word started circulating about the possible launch of an Android-powered Nokia smart phone, a device that one publication jokingly filed in the "Department of Unthinkable Products." And for good reason: Nokia is in the process of being acquired by Microsoft.
Why would the Finnish company decide to align itself with Android, an operating system built by Google?
But this week, at a glitzy event at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Nokia took the wraps off a trio of new devices phones – the X, the X+, and the XL – all three of which run a modified version of the Android OS. BGR has a full run-down of the different devices, but here's the CliffsNotes: The X is a medium-tier smart phone with a 1 GHz dual-core processor and 512MB of RAM. The X+ gets an additional 256MB of RAM and some extra memory.
And the XL gets a 5-inch WVGA display, along with some improved cameras.
"Today Windows Phone is the fastest growing mobile ecosystem in the world, and we continue to see incredible momentum with our Lumia smartphones," Nokia exec Bryan Biniak said in a statement. "Now, with the introduction of the Nokia X family of devices, we're delivering the same design, quality and innovation Nokia is known to lower price points to capture the fastest-growing segment of the smartphone market."
Which goes a long way toward explaining the strategy behind the X line.
Here's Ed Bott of ZDNet:
Anyone who thinks that Microsoft has to choose between Windows Phone and Android is missing the point. In a market that comprises more than a billion new devices a year, a platform that’s a distant third can still be a serious and profitable business. Even if Windows Phone stalls out at a seemingly puny 10 percent of the market, that represents 100 million devices a year. And if Nokia-branded devices running Microsoft and Nokia services on top of [Android] can snag another 10 percent of the market in Asia, India, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin American, why turn those customers down?
According to BGR, the 89-euro X will be released immediately in a range of markets (North America doesn't make the list), while the X+ and XL are slated for release later this year.