Microsoft to focus on budget Windows Phone powered Lumias, ends dalliance with Android

Microsoft headquarters

Microsoft is in the process of making sweeping changes that include an internal reorganization of the company that will see 18,000 employees exit the company in the next one year and of course, the end of the line for that Android experiment: Nokia X smartphones.

According to two memos/emails to employees released today by the CEO, Satya Nadella and the Vice President of Devices and Services, Stephen Elop, the end of the road for the Nokia X is not clear but very definite.

Nadella wrote:

…we plan to shift select Nokia X product designs to become Lumia products running Windows. This builds on our success in the affordable smartphone space and aligns with our focus on Windows Universal Apps.

Elop was more blunt:

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. 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.

In carefully worded statements, there is talk of folding the design of the current Nokia X devices into Lumias targeted at the budget market. That neither tells us directly what happens to the Nokia X line since they are talking about “select Nokia X product designs” nor the direction of the new budget Lumia devices. Of course you can just see it, the Lumias are the way forward. The X? Not so much. Nokia X was a project started long before Microsoft acquired Nokia’s mobile business so it was allowed to proceed anyway while the new owner planned for the future. Probably the second generation X devices were in the pipeline too so they couldn’t have been stopped from going to market only for the plug on the entire line to be pulled a month later.

Despite all the misgivings that core Windows Phone and Android fans had about the Nokia X, it turned out to be a popular device in emerging markets like India where it was targeted thanks to its friendly pricing and aggressive marketing by its makers. With Microsoft turning to its Lumia lineup of Windows Phone-powered devices, it will be interesting to see how it fairs in the low end market segment where dirt cheap no-name brand Android devices and a few others from established players like Samsung have dominated for a while now. In my opinion, they can do just fine if the popularity of the Lumia 520 is anything to go by.

Despite all that, Microsoft promises to continue selling Nokia X devices and supporting them.