Nokia goes green, but just how likely is it to launch a Nokia X Android phone?
Nokia is a tease. It has turned its Facebook and Twitter profiles green, as spotted by UK Mobile Review. Not because it's Valentine's day or in anticipation for St Patrick's day but because, if the rumours are to be believed, it is about to launch an Android smartphone called the Nokia X.
How would a Google-powered, Microsoft-owned, smartphone actually work though? And what's wrong with Windows Phone? Putting aside the will it, won't it, argument for a moment, let's look at why it might.
Theory one: rebellion
The first theory is that Nokia is taking its final chance to stick two fingers up to the company that is about to buy it: "We are going to launch an Android device in the final days of independence and then let you, Microsoft, pick up the pieces."
To many that see the new incoming incumbent as a bad thing, this idea makes sense. It's brash, perhaps typical of the Finnish firm, and causes plenty of headaches for Microsoft. You can imagine the Downfall meme video: "What have they done?!!!!!"
It's whimsical idea, but in reality unlikely to be the case. Although Microsoft doesn't officially own the devices division at Nokia yet, the companies have been working so closely together for a number of years that the thought that it would be trying to throw a spanner in the works is a foolhardy one only really wished for by detractors upset that the Americans are coming. Newsflash: they've been in the house and enjoying the sauna for some time now.
Theory two: the blame game
The second theory is that if Nokia were to launch an Android-powered smartphone at Mobile World Congress, it would be able to do so as Nokia before being owned by Microsoft, allowing the Redmond-based company to save a lot of "face".
The move would allow Microsoft to blame an "old Nokia" if whatever it is planning doesn't pan out.
Like any Government keen to blame the last one for all the mistakes it is currently facing, Microsoft could do the same if it all goes horribly wrong.
It's a lot easier for Microsoft to accept and take on board an Android-powered device as part of the "current product line-up", than have to worry about how it would message such a move in the first couple of months of taking over the company. And if the experiment succeeds, well...
Theory three: Trojan horse
Microsoft has realised that Windows Phone is gaining traction with consumers, but is still struggling to gain real momentum against Samsung, Sony, Motorola and everybody else playing in the Android space. The answer? Launch an Android phone, but with a difference.
Like Amazon and its Kindle line of tablets, Microsoft could use Google's Android to its advantage by stripping out all the Google services and replacing them with Microsoft ones. In addition, it could tweak the user interface to look like Windows Phone. Outlook, Skype, Office, OneDrive and the like, but without Google Play or Google Maps and other Google services.
Such a device would work well in developing markets allowing people to get a wealth of apps, as well as feel safe they are going Android but still playing and paying into Microsoft's brand values.
According to the rumoured specs, the entry-level handset will have a 4-inch display, Qualcomm S4 processor, 3-megapixel camera, 4GB of storage and 512MB of RAM. That's no flagship and means that the Nokia X would sit under the Lumia 520 but above the Asha range already available.
Such a device would allow people to have apps, but hopefully, for Microsoft, get people sucked into using Microsoft services with the hope that when they then come to upgrade they adopt Lumia because they are already using everything Microsoft.
Theories aside: why?
That's the big question that many people will be asking, as it goes against everything that Microsoft has been saying in the past and everything that makes Windows Phone stand out from the crowd.
Talking off the record to a number of people in the industry, many are concerned or confused by the speculation and possible outcomes. You only have to look at BlackBerry and the way it has embraced Android within it's BB10 operating system to show that trying to be everything to everyone doesn't necessarily work.
On the record, both Microsoft and Nokia have declined to discuss our theories, perhaps understandably. But when pushed on Twitter by its fans, Nokia is in full tease mode. When asked if going green meant it was about to launch an Android device the reply was telling: "Can't say. Won't say. More news coming soon, stay tuned!"
With Nokia's press conference scheduled for Monday 24 February, we should know whether the rumours are true, and if so, have a chance to ask both Nokia and Microsoft what it all means and why consumers should be interested.