Microsoft axing Android-powered Nokia phones makes me sad
Contrary to what others in the industry (and even others on the Pocketnow team) may say, the Nokia X was a great little phone. It felt durable, performed well, and once you got rid of that custom launcher and put the Play Store and the Google Now launcher on it, it was a neat little piece of hardware that I thoroughly enjoyed using as my daily driver — albeit for too short a time.
Sure, those aren’t things that most people will do, but the fact that you could was what made it remarkable. Yes, we all hated the launcher. Yes, we all hated the singular “back” button, too. But the concept — a Nokia running Android — was something that many of us thought would never happen, and lots of us are very happy that it did.
Unfortunately, Microsoft was in the process of acquiring Nokia when the rumors of an Android-powered handset began to surface. While we hoped to see a high-end device running the latest and greatest version of Android, what we ended up with was fairly basic hardware, no built-in Google Apps, and a launcher that looked more like a handicapped Windows Phone experience than an Android one. Perhaps that was the intention: an underpowered device that no one wanted, and no typical Android user could justify using. An executive could then take these findings back to a board meeting and convince the rest of the executives that Android was terrible — and would have the data to back it up.
While I have absolutely no evidence that any of that took place (nor am I implying that anything like it actually did), if it had, it wouldn’t have surprised me.
Many sources have reported that Microsoft makes more money from handsets that use Android than it does from handsets using its own operating system. While that doesn’t mean Microsoft would ever reap more “profit” from using someone else’s OS on its own hardware, it’s an interesting point to ponder.
Back to the issue at hand, finally (FINALLY!) I was able to use a Nokia running Android. I got it to work the way I wanted without too much fuss. No, it wasn’t a high-end Lumia like I wanted, but it gave me hope! It was a step in the right direction.
Fast-forward to today and we’re told that the post-merger Nokia will likely be “repurposing” the Nokia X product line as Windows Phone handsets, and may be laying off as many as 18,000 employees at the same time. Put another way, that number is 3/4 the population of my town!
From which departments are these cuts coming? Most sources are saying it’s likely former Nokia employees that will be getting the axe, but based on rumblings I’m hearing from Microsoft employees who (spoke on condition of anonymity), no one is exempt.
Layoffs aren’t usually considered “good news”, especially to the employees and divisions where those layoffs hit. For decades Nokia has had something amazing. It produced beautiful handsets that were well-built and well-received around the world. The U.S.A. in general didn’t see everything that Nokia offered, but for those of us in the industry, Nokia’s devices were impressive.
Now, those devices will likely never see a “real” version of Android, and the people responsible for the momentum behind Nokia may be kicked to the curb — along with the talent that made Nokia great. All told, Microsoft axing Android-powered Nokia phones — and Nokia employees — makes me sad.