- CEO Stephen Elop presents the new Nokia XL at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, …
Nokia showed off Monday a new range of smartphones powered by Google's Android operating system, even as it is being taken over by Microsoft.The Finnish group unveiled three Nokia X smartphone models at the opening of the four-day World Mobile Congress in Barcelona, shunning Microsoft's Windows Phone to go with a competing Android-based system.
The new smartphones use an "Android open-source platform" but are equipped with Nokia's own Lumia user interface and they point users to Microsoft services, not Google's, said Nokia France managing director Thierry Amarger.
Android applications installed on the phones will work, but users will not be able to access Google's services, notably its applications store, Google Play.
The devices are aimed at customers seeking a smartphone for less than 150 euros ($210), said Amarger, as the market for entry-level smartphones enjoys "a full-blown acceleration".
The Nokia X range aims to capture a previously unreachable segment of the market with low prices, for example 119 to 149 euros in France, he said.
Until now, Nokia phones have worked exclusively with Windows Phone, the operating system developed by Microsoft, which is expected to complete a 5.44-billion-euro takeover of Nokia's mobile telephone business by the end of March.
The Android platform is considerably cheaper than Windows Phone, however, allowing Nokia to offer low-cost phones in emerging markets.
Nokia's mobile telephone business reported a 789-million-euro loss in 2013.
It was nevertheless the world's second largest manufacturer of all types of mobile handsets in that year after Samsung, with a 13.9-percent market share, down from 19.1 percent at the end of 2012, according to research house Gartner Inc.
Nokia's dwindling market share relies heavily on traditional mobile phones sold in emerging markets, however.
Nokia does not even feature in the top five manufacturers of smartphones, which are more advanced, allowing users to download applications and connect to the Internet.
Another struggling handset manufacturer, Blackberry, announced on the same day that its mobile messaging service BBM would soon be available for users of Windows Phone, and owners of the Nokia X range.