Microsoft just announced that future Nokia X devices will be running Windows Phone instead of Android.
This puts an end to Microsoft’s brief adventure in Android land, which began less than five months ago when Stephen Elop, then CEO of Nokia, announced the Nokia X at MWC in Barcelona.
In a letter to employees released today, Elop, now head of Microsoft’s devices division, announced a series of measures meant to bring focus and efficiency to the company’s newly acquired phone manufacturing unit. Among these measures is the transition of “select Nokia X” devices to the Lumia line and the replacement of Android with Windows Phone on upcoming Nokia X devices.
The shift to Windows Phone is already underway, but Microsoft will continue to sell and support existing Android Nokia X devices. This includes the Nokia X2, announced on June 24 and scheduled to become available globally by the end of the month.
Ditching Android for the X line is a sign that Microsoft is looking to compete more aggressively at the bottom end with Windows Phone. The Redmond company recently made its mobile OS free for smartphones and small tablets, in an effort to convince manufacturers to adopt instead of the much more popular Android.
[quote qtext=”We plan to drive Windows Phone volume by targeting the more affordable smartphone segments, which are the fastest growing segments of the market, with Lumia. In addition to the portfolio already planned, we plan to deliver additional lower-cost Lumia devices by shifting select future Nokia X designs and products to Windows Phone devices. ” qperson=”Stephen Elop” qsource=”” qposition=”center”]
Nokia X devices, available for as little as $130 and targeted at price conscious users in developing countries, feature a forked version of Android skinned to look like Windows Phone, while still maintaining compatibility with Android apps. However, because they run a forked version of Android, Nokia X phones don’t have access to the Play Store, though users can pick up Android apps from a store maintained by Microsoft.
Other streamlining measures that Microsoft announced today include the consolidation of production and R&D activities and the layoff of 18,000 employees by the end of the year (most of whom came onboard with the Nokia acquisition). More details here.