Nokia Normandy – a cause for concern ?

A Nokia Android device would be mean a wet dream for many🙂 Being a ‘softie at heart, I was very glad to have Nokia joining Microsoft as a Windows Phone Partner. Now and again I see examples of how they might have contributed to certain API

Of course I have read umpteen number of times that Nokia would have been better off had they gone with Android. Every 2nd person would tell you that they love Nokia’s industrial design and if offered a choice,  they would jump to Nokia’s android offering (if there was one). Enter Normandy – an extensively leaked device that has generated much marketing for Nokia – Metro UI skinned over Android. This has left many salivating…

So will Normandy see the light of the day and what happens when Microsoft completes the purchase of Nokia Devices division ? Is it really a Trojan horse like many would like to believe ?

The more I think about it, the more unlikely it seems – every decision whether its short term or long term is based on economics. Lets start with licensing

Licensing cost:

Google’s Android source is freely available and anyone can fork it and use it create a custom android distro. Most stock android apps are a part of Google services and that has to be licensed. While OS can be used freely, getting a forked distro at part requires considerable work.

Additionally from the approximately $220 million income, a guestimate mentioned something in the region of $200 million as patent related income from Android device manufacturers etc. If Microsoft itself adopts Android, I doubt it can continue to collect patent licensing fees – must read on reciprocal licensing terms of android later.

Its all about Services:

That is an interesting notion. Apple primarily makes money off device sales and all supporting services generally break even – even with multi billion downloads, the App Store and related income just breaks even. In Android world, Samsung makes more money from Android than Google primarily because its hardware margins that generate most revenue.

Of course google does have plenty of services and in addition to licensing them, Search is the only service that makes most contribution.

What would Nokia in the short term and Microsoft in intermediate term bring forward for Normandy ? Well Microsoft’s Bing and Xbox related services. Whilst Bing is great for English language results, I don’t know any non-English speakers who use Bing. Xbox Live doesn’t really work on Phones, Music / Videos are just that – they provide an option just like iTunes or Google Play. Office would be nice but again it doesn’t earn any money on devices.

Having Office and a few other core application would sweeten any Microsoft offering however would generate little revenue Oh and there’s Skype – it offers better products on iOS and Android than Windows Phone

Flood market with cheap device:

Normandy’s spec are very much like those of Lumia 520. While that is one of the most selling windows phone, I always advice people to buy 720 or better. One of the newest / cheapest Android Devices – Moto G has a substantially capable hardware. If Nokia / Microsoft take on Android, they will spend a good amount of time optimising runtime to make it run on poxy hardware. Again if the expectation is to win the market with low end devices, there is little money to be made from devices.

Final thoughts

I personally feel that all these considerations make it very unlikely that Microsoft will ever touch Normandy. Microsoft has agreed to purchase Devices division and both Asha and Lumia brands will come over to Microsoft. There is no mention of Normandy and that would have to be an additional consideration. I think Normandy was means to make Microsoft take Nokia seriously. Nokia itself (once transaction goes through) can only release anything mobile on 1st Jan 2016.

If you want me to speculate, i’d say there is a greater probability of Normandy staying hidden until 2016 – of course weird this have happened.

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