The X introduces a new “forked” version of Android that’s akin to what Amazon does with its Kindle Fire line. Nokia is effectively taking the open-source elements of Android and then bolting on its own services, a Windows Phone-like UI, and yet another Android app store. The downside to this is that the Nokia X devices won’t have access to Google’s Play store or Google-specific apps like Gmail, Chrome, Maps, and others. However, Android apps will run on the devices with only limited changes required by developers.
There’s a good chance this will get nixed shortly by Microsoft or simply be a market flop at launch. But there’s a small chance that this might become the most interesting mobile story of the year.
This kind of approach won’t be easy, and its success is anything but a sure thing. But I think it’s Microsoft’s only chance to break into the mobile platform business, if they still want to be in it. Windows Phone 7 and 8 have been complete failures with no hope in sight, and the sooner Microsoft can admit that to themselves, the sooner they can try another strategy — if it’s not too late.