How did Nokia X come to the market?
Everyone was surprised when it was announced in September that Microsoft was planning to acquire Nokia’s Devices and Services division for $7.2 billion. Right before the acquisition was made official, rumours of Nokia working on an Android based device started making rounds of the Internet. Nokia’s move to Android was justified given that its Windows Phone venture had not worked out as expected. It was widely speculated that Microsoft had acquired Nokia’s Devices and Services division to prevent Nokia form adopting Android since Nokia constituted as much as 90% of Windows Phone shipments and was the only OEM serious about Windows Phone.
Once the acquisition was made official everyone thought the Microsoft would simply burn the pile of Nokia X handsets or maybe dump it off somewhere and suffer the losses. The acquisition was supposed to be completed by December 2013 or so but because of regulatory hurdles in countries like China and India the acquisition was only completed in April 2014. Between the announcement of acquisition in September 2013 and the completion of acquisition in April 2014 came MWC in February 2014 and Nokia announced Nokia X.
What the Nokia X is?
Nokia X is an android based handset which ran on a forked version of Android. The forked version of Android meant that it would not have access to any kind of Google services such as Google Maps, Gmail, Google Play and anything Google you could think of but still it would run on Android. Instead all kinds of Google service were replace by offerings from Microsoft and Nokia.For example Google Maps was replaced with HERE maps and Google Drive was replaced with One Drive(Microsoft’s cloud based service).The handset was a low specced device with a cheap price tag and was aimed at emerging markets. The specs of Nokia X are can be found at this link www.gsmarena.com/nokia_x-6067.php
What did Nokia have to say about Nokia X?
While announcing the device Nokia said that Nokia X would help them bridge the gap between their Asha Line and Lumia Line as the pricing of Nokia X fell between both the lines but surprisingly when the price of Nokia X was announced it was very similar to Nokia Lumia 520.What was highly touted was that Nokia X would act as a feeder for Nokia towards its Lumia line up and that Nokia X would help Nokia promote Microsoft’s and Nokia’s services but Nokia was wrong and here is why in four points
1. Google is the King when it comes to services
Even in today’s generation there are several people who buy smartphones just for calling, texting, for using Whatsapp, Facebook and playing candy crush or any of their favorite time killer games. This is more so the case in countries like India where many people buying smartphones are generally first time buyers and do not know the functionality and importance of services. If a person takes services seriously imagining him to overlook the services provided by Google and adopting the services provided Microsoft is just a joke. I am not saying that Microsoft has bad services it’s just that Google’s offerings are simply better. Anyone who depends on stuffs like Gmail or Google Search or any other kind of Google service would simply choose to ignore Nokia X and would look for other alternatives. People who opted for Nokia X are also the ones who do not care about services if they did care about services they would not have opted for Nokia X because it’s clearly Google who is the king when it comes to services.
2. There is no incentive or even compulsion to use services
One Drive is Microsoft’s cloud based service and come pre-loaded on Nokia X but is there any incentive for people to use it? The clear answer is NO. Firstly in countries like India internet connections are very slow for people to upload any meaningful content. Apart from that people with a lot of data would rather prefer using SD cards rather than using One Drive. If Nokia really wanted to promote One Drive they should have made internal memory available very low and should have excluded SD card slots. That way at least some of the people with a lot of data would consider using One Drive. Google does the same thing. They have deliberately excluded micro SD card slots from their nexus devices and even Moto g and Moto x and have also brought about SD card related restrictions in android 4.4 to push its own Google Drive. But by making internal memory available very low and by removing SD card options Nokia would make Nokia X a less attractive option for people to buy. So Nokia is basically cornered by both sides and one service i.e. One Drive loses all its importance.
Same goes with Skype I mean with no front camera how can one use Skype for what it’s most popularly known for and that is video calling. With no video calling option on Skype the only option remaining is Instant Messaging. But for Instant Messaging people widely prefer Whatsapp and not Skype. In a similar fashion almost all available apps pre-loaded by Nokia lose their meaning and only few apps such as Nokia HERE maps have some functionality or meaning.
3. It’s not the best device available on market:-
I agree that Nokia X is a solid device but it was not the device that provided the most value for money or bang for buck which devices like Moto g and Moto e are. When the Nokia X was launched devices like Sony Xperia E1 and Samsung Galaxy S Duos 2 were easily able to compete with Nokia X in terms of specs and both the devices were very close to Nokia X in terms of pricing. The Sony Xperia E1 for example trumped Nokia X in the processing department with its Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 SoC which definitely performed better than the one found on Nokia X. The Samsung Galaxy S Duos 2 came with 768 mb of ram compared to the 512 mb ram present on Nokia X. The Samsung Galaxy S Duos 2 also had a front facing camera which actually was a very important thing to be present on Nokia X had Nokia wanted to promote Skype. What made the Nokia X even less attractive was the lack of Google Play Store and lack of Google services. The Nokia X also was heavily modified which put a lot of strain on the already aged hardware and thereby resulted in a laggy experience.
4. It could possibly detract people from windows phone:-
Nokia very well claimed that Nokia X would act as a feeder to its Lumia line up but actually the reverse had the chance of happening. I agree that Nokia X was heavily modified to make it resemble to Windows Phone but what Nokia also did was open up people to the world of Android apps. With the launch of Nokia X Nokia in a way admitted that Android has a better and more robust app collection than Windows Phone. very point in case being accomplished. I mean Nokia X was supposed to help Nokia promote Microsoft’s and Nokia’s services but points #1 and #2 already detail out how that’s not possible and as far as Nokia X acting as a feeder to Lumia Line up is concerned #4 details how that is not possible. #3 shows how Nokia X has stiff competition in the market and other handsets with comparable or better specs are present. The only kind of possible benefit Nokia is achieving the profit from hardware sales but at this price point the profit seems very low or nil at best. If its hardware profits that mattered then why does Nokia even bother to fork the Android version they could simply have sold the Nokia X with stock Android on board and with proper Google integration
Microsoft seems to understand
Microsoft was clearly unhappy when Nokia X was launched at MWC 2014 and that was clear with the statement “There are something’s they do which have us excited and some which do not” and although it was widely expected that Nokia X would be the last device in X series that was not the case as Microsoft unveiled the Nokia X2 but maybe Microsoft after all wants to kill the X line of devices. If anyone takes a notice the Nokia X2 launched just 4 months after the launch of Nokia X and although update cycles in the tech industry are getting faster and faster but even a today a proper meaningful update in a particular product line requires at least 8 months of time. Microsoft releasing the Nokia X2 just 4 months after its debut means that the company wants to clear its product line up before it can use Nokia for its Windows Phone ventures. What’s even more is Microsoft recently announce that the Nokia X line will not be receiving the software update which even more indicates that Nokia X is on the verge of being discontinued.
Nokia X is a product that was released in the market with a lot of hurry and no one was ready to take responsibility for the product. The product fails to achieve the goals it was actually supposed to achieve. The thing for Microsoft to do would be to discontinue the Nokia X line and concentrate on its Windows Phone initiative and try and conquer the low end of smartphone market with Windows Phone which is being increasingly dominated by Android.
The views expressed are of Viranch Damani who is an Engineering student.