There is no(kia) “X” in Microsoft


Awwwkward. Ever have one of those times when you’ve had to make up for someone else’s mistakes? Maybe they blurted out something that you hadn’t intended to make known to the general public and now you have to change your whole disposition. Maybe your little sister accidentally blurted out your impending wedding plans to your future in-laws, the Capulets. Similarly, at MWC Nokia introduced us to the Nokia X Microsoft is now saddled with.

It’s embarrassing and now you have to explain things earlier than planned and where are you going to get a bottle of poison at this time of night? But it’s out there, and now you have to deal with it.

Do you have any Grey Poupon?

Nokia has been a pretty classy organization for some time now. It has always held itself up above the fray that some OEMs get tangled in. Its barbs are playful in nature and rarely mean-spirited. It has done its best to hold itself up on its merits and correct its shortcomings where possible.

And then there’s the Nokia X line, as in, “Nokia, Xactly what do you hope to accomplish here?”

This is my "less excited" face

This is my “less excited” face

Less than thrilled

Microsoft has already stated (through Joe Belfiore) that it was “less excited” about some things Nokia has done of late – spoiler alert: Joe was talking about the Nokia X. Now Microsoft, with its impending acquisition of Nokia has to deal with handsets that run on Android, a.k.a. the Scoogled operating system. This puts Microsoft is a tight spot for a few different reasons.

First of all, the Nokia X is being touted as a low end Asha-replacement – a sort of gateway drug into the heavy Windows Phone addiction. This is great – in theory – except when you consider that Microsoft already announced nine other partners, many of which are already planning on competing in that same low-end market. Oh, and they’ll be competing with the low-end Lumia line too, which is already pretty hard to compete against in my humble opinion.

The price is right

Second, the Nokia X line is priced starting at 89 Euro, or roughly $120 USD or roughly twice what the Lumia 520 costs (in the US). Granted, I can’t speak for overseas prices – your mileage may vary. But to come out with a “competitor” that is twice the price as your competition? Who do you think you are? Apple? (Oh no he didn’t oh yes he did).

The most compelling reason I’ve heard to date about why Microsoft won’t drown this baby at birth is that the highly-forked Android build resembled Windows Phone more than Android and will get users accustomed to Microsoft services. Ok, I get that. But you know what else gets users accustomed to Microsoft services? Windows Phone. Some have argued that that the minor modifications required to code will entice more developers, which will leave no app gap and all the while users will be using Microsoft services. I guess this is fine in theory, but you’re assuming developers will care enough to make any changes in code.

androsoftNowhere to run to

The other thing to consider is that these apps will be coming from Microsoft’s Android App Store/Marketplace/Bizarre. The type of users these phones are going to be marketed to don’t generally aren’t going to be buying a whole lot of apps, but the ones they do buy they’re going to want to be portable. Can I take this app to other Windows Phones? Oh wait, no. Well then I can take them to another Android phone? Oh wait no. No you can’t. Not unless of course that other device has access to the Microsoft app store.

Even assuming you can take your apps to another Android phone, the problem with that is it’s another Android phone. I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that it’s an Android phone not made by Microsoft. Which means Microsoft customers minus one.

At best this is a bad idea that will do nothing but confuse customers – either because they’ll assume they can get any Android app they want, or because they’ll see Nokia and think “Windows Phone”. This is why I think Microsoft will quietly let this die, as it should. Look people, I know there has been a clamoring for Android on Nokia phones, but you really should be careful what you wish for, because you just got it…

…and it kinda sucks.

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About The Author
Adam Doud
Adam joined the tech world after watching Jon Rubenstein demo the most epic phone ever at CES 2009. He is webOS enthusiast, Windows Phone fan, and Android skeptic. He loves the outdoors, is an avid Geocacher, Cubs/Blackhawks fan, and family man living in Sweet Home Chicago, where he STILL hosts monthly webOS meetups (Don’t call it a comeback!). He can be found tweeting all things tech as @DeadTechnology, or chi-town sports at @oneminutecubs. Read more about Adam Doud!