Hey, Microsoft, killing off Nokia X is the right move

Microsoft's decision to axe the bizarre Nokia X "Android" experiment will refocus development to the right place: the Windows Phone OS.

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The large Nokia X smartphone runs a hybrid OS that tries to make the most of all worlds. Josh Miller/CNET

So much for the Nokia X family of phones being good for Microsoft.

It didn't take long in Redmond's digestion of Nokia's devices unit to officially scrap the strange Nokia X Software Platform and the phones that went with it. Instead, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella committed to converting phones in the Nokia X roadmap into Windows Phone devices bearing the Lumia name.

"We plan to shift select Nokia X product designs to become Lumia products running Windows," Nadella wrote in a statement.

Despite Microsoft device chief (and former Nokia CEO) Stephen Elop's assurance that Microsoft will still support existing Nokia X phones -- which include the Nokia X, Nokia X+, Nokia XL, and new Nokia X2 -- during their lifetimes, the message is clear: Nokia X is no more.

Bravo. X-ing out the X is a smart, confident stride for a company that's bringing smartphone design and production in-house for the first time.

Flippantly, the Nokia X platform is a mess. And by this I mean that the OS that was Nokia's experimental foray into using Android code as its programming backbone created an amateur-looking jumble of Nokia, Android, and Windows Phone services that ultimately limited the powers of all three. In fact, aimed at the emerging market, the Nokia X phones' strongest feature is a lower price point.

While cost is important, Android was never necessary to compete at the low end -- Microsoft should easily be able to match the Nokia X's $140/€89/£100 sticker price using Windows Phone OS instead.

At a time when Windows Phone's future is once again teetering at a crossroads, Nokia X was just an odd distraction to Microsoft's real need: throwing everything it has into making its already cohesive Windows Phone OS better.

Clearing away the clutter will give Elop's team the space it needs to plug away on high and low tiers of the Lumia line -- assuming that Microsoft's substantial layoffs don't cut too deeply to the bone.

 

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