Microsoft Scraps Nokia X To Focus On Windows Phone

The forked-Android-based Nokia X range of affordable smartphones is to be scrapped by Microsoft as the company seeks to focus all of its attention on Windows Phone-powered Lumia handsets.

The first three Nokia X devices were unveiled at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona earlier this year, and were designed by Nokia prior to the completion of Microsoft’s £4.6 billion takeover of the Finnish manufacturer’s smartphone business.

Android-powered smartphones appeared to conflict with Microsoft’s plan to expand the reach of its own mobile operating system, especially when much of Windows Phone and Nokia’s success had been achieved in the mid-range smartphone market.

RIP Nokia X

Microsoft previously justified the Nokia X project by claiming it would get Microsoft services such as Bing, Skype and Office in the hands of more users and encourage them to eventually upgrade to a Lumia device.

However following the news that Microsoft is set to axe 18,000 jobs in the next 12 months, 12,500 of them affecting its mobile unit, former Nokia CEO and current executive vice president of Microsoft’s devices and services unit Stephen Elop has confirmed a change in strategy.

“It is particularly important to recognise that the role of phones within Microsoft is different than it was within Nokia,” he said. “Our device strategy must reflect Microsoft’s strategy and must be accomplished within an appropriate financial envelope. Therefore, we plan to make some changes.

“We will be particularly focused on making the market for Windows Phone. In the near term, we plan to drive Windows Phone volume by targeting the more affordable smartphone segments, which are the fastest growing segments of the market, with Lumia.”

Windows Phone focus

“In addition to the portfolio already planned, we plan to deliver additional lower-cost Lumia devices by shifting select future Nokia X designs and products to Windows Phone devices. We expect to make this shift immediately while continuing to sell and support existing Nokia X products.”

Elop added that Microsoft would consolidate its smart devices and mobile phone businesses into one single unit, which would be responsible for the success of its Lumia products and the use of Nokia X designs in Lumia handsets.

The most recent Nokia X smartphone was announced last month and the continuation of the project had led to speculation that Microsoft was preparing a high-end Lumia device running the forked-Android operating system. This now seems highly unlikely.

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Steve McCaskill

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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