Remember the Nokia “Normandy” that was leaked in press render form a month ago? At the time, @evleaks – who surfaced the leak – questioned whether it was “the real Asha? Or Lumia?”
Well now it looks like the answer is neither. Instead, the latest suggestion is that the Normandy is something altogether different – a forked entry-level Android device.
Multiple sources have revealed to The Verge that the Normandy is a low-end smartphone designed to sit between the flagship Lumia range of Windows Phones and the affordable Asha feature phone lineup, which is built on Nokia's Series 40 platform.
The operating software is built on Android underpinnings but is cut off from the mainstream Android market – and therefore Google Play – much like Amazon's Kindle Fire tablets.
Key Android apps such as Skype are said to be supported, but beyond that we're told nothing about the rationale behind the forked OS, and how Nokia plans to deliver enough utilities and services to lure customers away from full-blown Android alternatives.
Intriguingly, even until very recently Nokia staff were being told the Normandy was being lined up to launch in 2014, with efforts being described as “full steam ahead” by one unnamed insider.
So will the Normandy ever see the light of day? We'd be surprised if it did now that Microsoft is signing the cheques. But even ignoring that it's difficult to see how such a device could ever succeed.
On the one hand you can see the attraction, as the Asha range is surely pushing the very limits of what the Series 40 OS underpinning it can achieve, but with bona fide Android smartphones coming in ever cheaper, there just isn't the room for what in effect is a whole new ecosystem at the bottom end of the smartphone pile.