Before Microsoft agreed to buy Nokia’s mobile division, the Finnish company was apparently hard at work developing a new smartphone codenamed Normandy that ran a modified (or forked) version of Android. With the Microsoft-Nokia deal all but finalized, we had assumed project Normandy had been scrapped, but today the device surfaced again, suggesting that it may see the light of day after all.
The reports of Normandy's death have been greatly exaggerated.
— @evleaks (@evleaks) December 31, 2013
The latest photo of Nokia’s Android handset comes from Chinese leaker WPDang, which claims the photo comes from a research and development facility in China. The device is missing Nokia’s branding up front, but otherwise matches up with previously leaked pictures. This is the first time we’ve seen the alleged smartphone booted up, and while almost all of the icons are purposefully blurred it’s clear that we’re looking at a heavily altered version of Android. Or, at the very least, something that certainly isn’t Windows Phone.
It’s tough to say exactly why Nokia’s Android device still hasn’t been scrapped. It’s possible the company is stubbornly refusing to give up on the project until Microsoft takes over total control, but this seems unlikely considering how closely the two companies have worked together for the past few years. So what if Normandy is actually part of Microsoft’s plan?
Forking Android could give Microsoft a way to offer a smartphone with the app variety supported by Google’s OS with its own services. True, Normandy wouldn’t come with Google Search, Maps, Gmail or Chrome, but Microsoft has its own alternative to each of those apps. A forked version of Android could also be an easy way to transition users over from Google’s ecosystem, especially in emerging markets where Windows Phone is struggling the most.
For now though, this is all speculation. For all we know we’ll never see the mysterious Android phone hit the market, but considering the steady flow of leaks we can’t help but think Nokia and Microsoft may have a plan for project Normandy after all.