Nokia needs Android

Posted by Charbax – January 28, 2011

There are some talks about Nokia CEO giving clues about Nokia announcing the support of another OS soon. I think it definitely has to be Android support.

Nokia is the biggest phone maker in the world, they make about half a billion phones each year, it's insane. The thing is, Nokia makes phones that sell at an average below $20 each, most are being sold in developing countries actually. And even though Nokia makes about 15 times more phones than Apple, they make less than 15 times the profit that Apple does.

Nokia could make the industrys best sub-$100 Android phones, at that price with no subsidy or subscription contracts required. That would completely disrupt the whole iPhone and high-end Android and WP7 market in one swoop. That would focus the market in the area where Nokia is best, at making small margins and large volume.

Nokia could design their own Nokia Android Marketplace if they want, I don't think they should, instead they have to demand custom standard Google Marketplace, as Google does share in App sales profits with the manufacturer.

Nokia could do all kinds of custom Android UI customizations, as Motorola, Sony-Ericsson, HTC, Samsung, Acer, Lenovo and others have done. I don't think they should. They should give up on the urge to differentiate in UI designs and instead concentrate on differentiation in hardware design and smooth support for software features through the hardware design, that is the true purpose of a smartphone manufacturer. Give consumers vanilla Android and let consumers install alternative home replacements if they so wish to. Eventually, design a Nokia home replacement if you absolutely want, have it installed by default but absolutely allow for a full change to vanilla Android home UI in an official, not hidden, one click process.

If Nokia has "better ideas" in terms of things such as integrating Qt development framework with Android, suggest more Native Applications Support (such as faster improvements to the Android NDK) or in terms of pushing Android towards more openness in the development process, then "simply" join Google's Open Handset Alliance and put your full influence on improving the platform for everyone. Be nice.

I am sure Nokia has had a hundred engineers preparing their Android phones for more than a year now, it had probably been some secret projects in their R&D labs that they have been preparing just in case they later find out they need to go the Android route. A big company like Nokia can not afford not to look into Android as the open source releases are released for all to experiment with for free, Nokia could not afford not to prepare some designs just in case, and this is the case for it now.

I think the industry should prepare for the idea that Nokia might make excellent Android phone series to be sold unlocked below $100, below $200, and even some high-end at those below $400 price points. But I think Nokia could aim at the below $200 to feel as good as other companies high-end devices. That is, of course, only, if Nokia is not too much in bed with carriers in a way to prevent themselves from planning to take significant smartphone markeshare overnight by being the mega-disruptor of the Smartphone market, instead of doing like most others do which is to focus on maximizing margins and conspiring with the carriers to trick most consumers into 2-year contracts that are so lame.

What do you think Nokia wants to do and what are they able to do? Post your opinions in the comments.