Nokia Normandy (Android) is Happening, and Microsoft is now behind it
As all of us did, I read Tom Warren's article about @evleaks publishing press renders of Nokia's new Asha line with Android.
After some thinking, I believe this is coming to market in India at a minimum. Press renders with so much clarity and professionalism almost always come to market.
And it makes sense strategically. With this risky move, Microsoft and Nokia are making a bold and calculated long-term play, something that's been in the works for probably many many months.
Nokia very likely had this in development as an Asha replacement, at a minimum, and probably also as something they could also graft on its Lumia devices once its Windows Phone contractual obligation ended this year. Remember, it's called "Normandy." For those too young to remember or forgetful of history, Normandy is a region in France the Allies stormed to retake Europe in WWII. Likewise, this is war for Nokia and represented an all-in gamble by Nokia to retake their former glory.
Microsoft desperately needs to continue selling devices because it needs a way to grow mindshare and adoption of Microsoft services like Skype, Bing, Office and Outlook.com. What's the best way to do this in the non-first-world where is Asha's targeted? With a version of Android that runs on cheap cheap hardware, until they can get Windows to run on cheap cheap hardware, which may be fairly soon. This is why the Asha brand was part of the acquisition. It all makes sense now.
Some have postulated that these renders are a relic of Nokia's negotiating strategy during acquisition talks. If this were true, they would have leaked many many months ago. But they probably were used as part of the private negotiations. Instead, they're leaking now ahead of MWC because they are close to launch.
Regarding the UI, I'm actually surprised it isn't more of a copy of Windows, because doing so would even more so prepare an Asha user for Windows over the long term.