A position advertised on LinkedIn is fueling speculation in the tech world that Nokia could be seriously considering Android as an operating system for its future mobile devices.
A corporate logo is displayed at the Nokia flagship store in Helsinki. Credit: Reuters/Bob Strong
The ad for a Principal Software Engineer, which asks for candidates who are "expert C/C++ & JAVA
engineers to develop embedded Linux device kernel and hardware drivers for our exciting new products," while also stressing the importance of previous experience and knowledge of mobile phone technology, has led many to speculate that Nokia is looking at using Android in upcoming mobile devices, as Linux is at the heart of the Google-developed operating system.
The Finnish mobile company was once the industry's undisputed leader but has recently fallen on hard times, making a number of poor decisions regarding its smartphone strategy. However, it believed that its exclusive partnership with Microsoft -- to develop and build its flagship Windows Phone 8 handsets -- would be the key to its renewed success. And while the first Nokia Lumia Windows Phone 8 handsets have met with praise, considering that Android phones already account for 72 percent of the worldwide market share (according to Gartner's latest figures, 122 million handsets were shipped in the third quarter of 2012 alone), Nokia faces a huge challenge if it wants to crack the market.
Adding to this challenge is the fact that unlike HTC and Samsung, which produce both Windows Phone 8 and Android handsets, Nokia is tied to a partnership with Microsoft, meaning that, for the time being, the phonemaker is committed to the Windows operating system.
However, similar rumors also abound that Microsoft is poised to start making its own smartphones -- a move that would turn its biggest partner, Nokia, into its competitor.
But why should consumers care? What set Nokia apart from its competitors in the feature phone era was its combination of design and ease of use. If the company could apply these strengths to Android, there is every chance that the company could create something as good-looking as a Lumia 920 that is as easy to navigate as an iPhone and that supports the 600,000 + apps on Google Play. Many of these strengths are already on display in its range of Asha handsets that offer basic smartphone functionality and limited apps and are based on its own S40 operating system. Perhaps fittingly, ‘Asha' means ‘hope' in Hindi.