Nokia Lumia 1320

After reading a Forbes article two days ago highlighting 24 countries where Windows Phones outsells the iPhone – which disregards the fact that Microsoft is gaining traction in markets where the iPhone doesn’t compete because Windows Phone sales are most in the low-end – I wanted to write a reality check type of an article.

Today, both Nokia and Microsoft were served a reality check after the struggling Finnish handset maker reported a whopping 29 percent lower handset revenue in the Christmas quarter. Worse, sales are decelerating at an alarming clip: Nokia said it sold 8.2 million phones during the Christmas quarter versus Wall Street consensus of ten million units. And they only sold 30 million handsets during 2013.

The company has now scheduled a press conference at the upcoming Mobile World Congress in February amid persisting rumors of a budget Android phone with the Nokia logo on it, the ambitious project apparently code-named Normandy…

Nokia’s Q4 2013 earnings report revealed a drop in Lumia sales during the all-important Christmas quarter, despite the company more than doubling the 13.3 million handsets sold during 2012. Nokia tellingly attributed the overall handset decline to the weak performance of its the smartphone unit.

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Nokia’s smartphone shipments since the first Lumia launch, via Financial Times.

This is bad news for Microsoft as Nokia comprises 85 percent of all Windows Phone sales, even more so given a couple of quarters of promising growth. If you go to Amazon.com, the best-selling Nokia device, the Lumia 1020, sits at #60, far behind brands like Casio.

We also know Nokia is about to announce something soon as the invites just went out for its press conference scheduled to take place on Monday February 24 at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

Nokia MWC 2014 invite

Nokia sources told The Verge that the media event will serve as a launchpad for the Normandy project, an Android-driven Nokia handset. It’s safe to assume that any such introduction would have to come with Microsoft’s blessing. Windows Phone 8.1 should be detailed in full at the Build conference in April, the publication learned.

Here are some purported Normandy UI shots by prominent leaker @evleaks.

More shots can be found below and here, here, here, here and here.

The Android software + the Lumia 1020 camera combo sounds compelling, no?

Nokia Normandy (image 002)

As soon as Android started to gain meaningful traction around the world, I felt sorry for Nokia as the firm had wasted precious time attempting to consolidate its many mobile operating systems and services.

I’ve always felt that Nokia would have been the best fit for Android. The company has unmatched distribution footprint in the farthest places on Earth and its brand used to be synonymous with mobile phones.

Nokia Normandy (image 001)

And compared to other Android backers, Nokia’s high-end devices have great build quality, its industrial design praised the world over. And, Nokia’s mobile camera and photography expertise remains, for the most part, unmatched in this industry.

Nokia badly needed a solid platform to glue it all together and deliver cohesive user experiences and Android was the obvious choice. Sadly, the company lacked the courage to admit itself that the smartphone race is really about the platform, software and services, all areas where it just couldn’t compete with Silicon Valley tech titans.

Nokia Normandy (image 003)

If Nokia went Android five years ago, the mobile landscape would have been drastically different by now. Which brings me to my question of the day: is Nokia’s rumor Android move a typical case of too little, too late?

Sound off in the comments.