Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) Nokia took the wraps off the new Nokia X2, a device that runs Android and will sell for around $135. The device appears to indicate Microsoft's intention, at least for the time being, to maintain Nokia's plans to sell Android phones as a low-cost alternative to Nokia's wider line of Lumia Windows Phone devices.
Microsoft boasted that the new X2 sports a range of new features including the next-generation Nokia X Software Platform 2.0 (which won't be made available to Nokia's previously released Android X phones) as well as a "stunning 'Inner Glow' design," access to Android apps and Microsoft services, easier switching between apps with "Fastlane," 15 GB of free cloud storage on Microsoft's OneDrive, and visual multitasking.
The phone's feature set prompted some surprise from at least one analyst: "Microsoft seems to be innovating faster on Android than Windows Phone," Reticle Research analyst Ross Rubin tweeted.
But more importantly, the gadget appears to indicate Microsoft's intention to continue building Android phones--surprising, given Microsoft's efforts to position its own Windows Phone operating system as a rival to Android. Globally, Windows Phone is a distant third to Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) iOS and Google's Android.
Microsoft announced its intention last year to acquire Nokia's handset business--Nokia is the primary global supplier of Widows Phone smartphones. However, earlier this year--before Microsoft closed its acquisition of Nokia--Nokia surprised industry observers by announcing plans to sell low-cost X phones running a modified version of Google's Android operating system that favors Microsoft's online services rather than those from Google. At the time, Microsoft executives took a decidedly cool view of the action: "Some things we're excited about, some things we're less excited about," Microsoft's Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of Microsoft's operating systems group, said earlier this year in response to questions about Nokia X. The reactions raised the possibility that Microsoft would discontinue the X line after it closed on its purchase of Nokia, which happened in April.
"Microsoft continues to invest in Nokia's forked Android platform. So that question now has an answer," tweeted Current Analysis analyst Avi Greengart today after the announcement of the X2.
Microsoft's new Nokia X2 sports a 4.3-inch ClearBlack display, dual-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 200 processor and 5-megapixel main camera. The gadget will initially be sold in emerging markets with a dual-SIM design.
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