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Nokia Android 'Normandy' phone 'full steam ahead,' despite Microsoft acquisition

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Nokia said earlier that the reason it opted for Windows Phone over Android because it feared one Android OEM would become dominant. That has come to pass, with Samsung being the obvious leader in Android phones. Despite the accuracy of its prediction, Nokia has an Android project underway, and it is "full steam ahead," AllThingsD reported on Thursday.

That is interesting enough, though one would have to wonder why, since Microsoft is currently in the midst of acquisition proceedings for Nokia's mobile unit, the project, which aims to target low-end entry level phones -- continues to live. The reason, AllThingsD added, is that the project, codenamed "Normandy," could be more palatable to Redmond than seeing those sales go to Google's Android platform.

While Nokia already has a low-end platform -- Asha -- it has struggled to gain user acceptance for the OS, which is based on the aging Series 40 operating system. The company reported hopes that "Normandy" will produce better entry-level smartphone sales and response than Asha.

The Android underpinnings of "Normandy" could prove a selling point. However, "Normandy" is apparently forked and heavily customized, a la the Kindle Fire's Fire OS. In other words, visually, it doesn't look like Android, and a Nokia source even said the software has a look somewhat similar to Windows Phone, certainly more than Asha.

A heavily customized Android version, though, would mean that Nokia -- like Amazon.com -- would not gain access to the Play Store or Google services, which are normally distributed with the platform.

The first "Normandy" devices are in early manufacturing testing, and could be released in early 2014, the source said. This isn't the first we've heard of the project. In November, noted hardware leaker @evleaks posted a photo on Twitter (above) last month of a Nokia Normandy device.

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