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Adventures In Tech: Could Android have saved Nokia?
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Adventures In Tech: Could Android have saved Nokia?

4:00 /

CNET imagines what might have happened if Nokia had sided with Google's green robot. And the results may surprise you.

Conventional wisdom said, that if Nokia had opted for android maybe it would still be on top of the smart phone world. Today adventures in tech imagines the early Nokia android phone that never was, and asks could it have changed everything. [MUSIC] For 14 years from 1998 Nokia was the biggest phone maker in the world. But it misjudged the smartphone revolution, sticking with the Symbian OS until 2011 while rivals built up a huge lead. Nokia sided with Windows Phone, but its market share didn't recover. And in 2014 it was bought by Microsoft, ending its bid for independent smartphone supremacy. Nokia acted too late and we'll never know what kind of wonderful devices could have been created. How to embrace Android earlier, unless we change history by building a time machine. This is experiment one. I'm going back to find out what would have happened to Nokia. I'm going in. Look. I'm you from the nightmare Android future you're about to create. Don't go back. Just make this [UNKNOWN] imagination instead. Oh, alright, cool, sure. In imagining the lost Nokia Android phone, the first thing we need to nail down is the look. Luckily industrial design was absolutely one of Nokia's strong suits. In 2011 before the launch of Window's phone, Nokia released one of the best looking smart phones ever in the N9 which ran the ill-fated Meego OS. The N9 had a gorgeous curved screen and a range of colors that made it stand out. And as Nokia kept the look for it's earliest Windows phone devices. It's likely that if Nokia had embraced Android, this is the look it would've chosen. And, apart from design, there's another bit of expertise that Nokia could've brought to our hypothetical Android masterpiece. Even before 2012's 41 megapixel 808 Pureview, Nokia was making some of the best mobile camera tech around. Including a real gem in 2010 Symbian-powered Nokia N eight. The N eight had a 12 megapixel sensor, which was huge for the time and coupled with Carl Zeiss optics, produced images that were way ahead of the competition. It was a superior snapper that we'd happily stuff inside our dream Android phone. Finally, the all important Android software. By the time Nokia did debut with Android with the Nokia X it was already deeply committed to Windows 5. So it's hard to know what Nokia's take on Android would have looked like back in the day. We do know that the Finnish firm has always been keen on using this folked tweaks and apps to give it an edge. Nokia's long standing map service and later Nokia Music. Would have made an appearance as would that famous Nokia ringtone which incidentally comes from a 1902 composition for solo guitar. So horrible. When you put these elements together you realize what Nokia has going for it. Not just design or tech, but good will, too. Maybe it was nostalgia for those beloved old phones, but Nokia was a company we wanted to succeed. And that made its decline harder to bear. It's tempting to think that Android could've saved Nokia, but I'm not sure. Google's green robot can be a cruel companion. When similar software is available everywhere, phone makers are forced to build cheaper mobiles to woo customers. And today, even giants like Sony or Samsung are increasingly struggling to make money. Nokia was gambling that by offering something different, it could dodge those problems. The bet didn't pay off, but the decision to make it was a logical one. What would you have done different if you were in charge? And what are your memories of Nokia? Let me know and check back next time at Adventures in Tech. [MUSIC]

Luke Westaway is a senior editor at CNET and writer/ presenter of Adventures in Tech, a thrilling gadget show produced in our London office. Luke's focus is on keeping you in the loop with a mix of video, features, expert opinion and analysis.