When Microsoft initiated a purchase of Nokia back in September, a lot of Android fans let out a defeated sigh: there was no way the company would ever release Android-powered hardware. Well hold on to your dreams, true believers, because multiple leaks indicate that a new Nokia phone will indeed run Google's open-source OS.
The phone is codenamed "Normandy," though that is almost certain to change to "Lumia Four-Digit Number" if it's released. Evleaks posted what looked like a press photo of the phone in late November, which we ignored at the time because... well, did you see the sign on the door? He speculated that it might be an Asha device, Nokia's brand of inexpensive smartphones running the S40 operating system, most of which are aimed at emerging markets.
A real Asha. Or Lumia? The Nokia Normandy. pic.twitter.com/Q4jpPNte1l
— @evleaks (@evleaks) November 25, 2013
The Verge reports that several anonymous sources have told them that the Normandy is in fact running Android. Though the device was planned and designed before the Microsoft acquisition began, at least one insider says that the project will be completed and released, describing its internal status as "full steam ahead."
But don't get too excited. One, the Asha phones that the Normandy was probably designed to replace are extremely low-end - most of them lack even basic smartphone hardware like a GPS radio or 3G data. Two, The Verge also reports that the version of Android that the phone is currently running is heavily modified, roughly to the same level as the Fire OS on Amazon's Kindle tablets. The odds that it would be competitive with any notable Android phones, or that it would have access to the Google Play Store and other Google services, are extremely low.
There's also a good chance that Microsoft will kill the Normandy project before its reported 2014 release. The Microsoft-Nokia deal was just approved by the US Department of Justice and the European Commission a week ago, and until the merger is final, Microsoft still holds no real power over Nokia's decision-making. The acquisition is a done deal, but it will take several months at least for Microsoft to take control of the company. It's a toss-up as to whether Microsoft will allow the Normandy to go to market to avoid wasting the time and money it took to develop the phone, or scrap the project completely (or just possibly try to switch it over to Windows Phone or S40) and take the loss.
In any case, the Normandy is a project from a very different company than the one Nokia is now, or will be later. Even if it is released, and it does run Android, it certainly won't herald a change for the company at large. Nokia's more widespread devices in all segments of the mobile market will run Windows, and only Windows, in the immediate future.
Move along folks, there's nothing to see here.