**Editor's Note: Click here for our list of November's hottest selling smartphones to see how Nokia's Lumias fared against the competition.
Nokia might be ready to break its Microsoft Windows Phone exclusivity by rolling out an Android-based handset early next year. That could make for some awkward moments considering Microsoft is close to closing on its acquisition of the Finland-based manufacturer.
Nokia first formed a partnership with Microsoft more than two years ago. The company has produced a number of Lumia-branded smartphones featuring the Windows Phone operating system. But now comes news that a new device – codename "Normandy" – will ship sometime in 2014. And yes, it runs on Android, Google's operating software.
The Verge reported that this version of Android, however, is what it calls "forked," and supposedly not "aligned with Google's own version." The site compared it to the version of Android that runs Amazon's Kindle Fire tablets. The Normandy is expected to be a "low-end" smartphone that's similar to Nokia's Asha line of handsets that are more popular in emerging markets than they are in the U.S. and Western Europe. In fact, a new line of Nokia Android phones might just replace the Ashas.
“If those rumors are true, that’s quite a significant piece of news. First, with the Microsoft deal now imminent, Nokia appears to be sleeping with the enemy," noted Yankee Group senior analyst Boris Metodiev. "It will be interesting to see if the Android-powered device will be launched before or after the acquisition is completed, and if it is before that, what would Microsoft do with it?"
But Microsoft might actually have less to worry about than Google has.
"... Nokia intends to fork Android to such an extent that it would be able to assume absolute responsibility for the OS and leave Google completely out of it," Metodiev added. "Amazon has already done it with its Kindle range of tablets, and I am pretty sure Samsung eventually would like to do the same. That’s something that Google needs to be worried about."
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