Nokia was internally testing Android on Lumia hardware before the Microsoft buyout


elop-ballmer-2Nokia, the once renowned phone manufacture and quite possibly the greatest phone manufacturer of the last decade shocked the tech world when they announced their plans to ditch Symbian in favor of Windows Phone in 2011.

The Microsoft deal according to them would have guaranteed a secure position in the smartphone world but that didn’t turn out as planned. Nokia’s Windows Phone strategy along with their Lumia devices barely managed to take off globally. Stagnating below the 5% mark while Android & iOS enjoyed a continued growth.

Nokia was eventually pushed into a downwards spiral while its CEO Stephen Elop also known as the ‘Microsoft Trojan Horse’ choked Nokia. Mountains of cash where burning out and investors were slowly losing interest in the Finnish company. Nokia, blinded by the monopoly money Microsoft flashed around was slowly being lured into a hostile takeover.

A recent report from NYT highlights that a bunch of Nokia engineers were already playing around with Android and very easily managed to get it past booting on current generation Lumia devices. People familiar with the matter confirmed that Android was already running on Nokia smartphones internally “well before” the Microsoft buyout.

IMG_2243The Nokia N9 running its incomplete but usable Android Jelly Bean port.

“Microsoft executives were aware of the existence of the project, these people said.” – With the Microsoft deal ending in 2014 Nokia would have had the opportunity to make the switch and finally embrace profitability; had it not failed.

Another person said the idea of Nokia using Android wasn’t a part of Microsoft’s discussions with the company about an acquisition, even though that was widely recognized as a possibility.

Nokia essentially shot itself in the foot, making a wrong platform choice, missing critical opportunities that eventually lead to Microsoft’s $7.2 billion acquisition of its handset business. Nokia would have certainly found itself in a better place right now if they went all Android back in the days when Samsung wasn’t yet a dominant brand.

The current status of Nokia’s Android project is unclear. Presumably, after Microsoft completes its acquisition of Nokia’s phone business early next year, there won’t be much future for it.

N9 Photo via The Verge forums