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Nokia planning Normandy assault on Android market

Nokia’s Normandy handset set to use Android operating system.

Handset maker Nokia is to launch an Android phone that could directly compete with Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8-based Lumia range. The Nokia Normandy phone is slated to launch in 2014 and is likely to be an entrylevel handset. It will run a variant of Android but will have some important differences from Google’s smartphone operating system. 

Is this the Nokia Normandy? And will it run Android?

Last month, Twitter user @evleaks posted a photo of a Nokia handset and posed the question “A real Asha. Or Lumia? The Nokia Normandy”. Asha is a reference to Nokia’s current Symbian S40 handsets. Analysts speculate that launching the Normandy line of Android-esque phones could allow Nokia to retire its Asha line of phones, which are struggling to compete against budget Android devices.

Using a customised version of Android, Nokia would be able to offer more apps and potentially differentiate itself from other Android phones by including non-Google apps such as Microsoft’s Bing app. This in itself could appeal to some users, as not everyone likes using Google-everything. 

The Verge reports Nokia insiders as saying that plans for the Normandy phone launch are “full steam ahead”. However, it’s not clear how the Normandy phone launch would go down with Microsoft. Nokia and Microsoft have jointly launched several Lumia Windows Phone 8 handsets and Nokia’s handset division is currently in the process of being acquired by the US giant. 

Though it’s unlikely Microsoft would want Nokia to challenge its share of the entry-level smartphone market (which it would seem to do if Normandy and Windows Phone 8 devices went head to head), a custom device such as Normandy could push Microsoft software such as Skype and Bing. A similar approach using Android as a basis but ignoring Google services certainly hasn’t done Amazon much harm with its Kindle tablets

-Rosemary Hattersley

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