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Nokia: what might have been

We're at a fascinating crossroads in the life of Nokia. The hugely successful mobile phone company has has a rough ride in recent years, with its high-end 'phones failing to compete with the likes of the iPhone and growing concern in the tech world about its strategy. This Spring, new CEO Stephen Elop responded by tearing up the company's plans for its own new smartphone software, MeeGo, and adopting Microsoft's Windows Phone platform instead. But as these leaked images show, it could have been very different.

Last week, Nokia showed off the N9, the phone that will probably become the only one ever released to run the final version of MeeGo. But carrying on with its own software was not the only option Nokia rejected: they also decided against using Google's mobile software, Android. Stephen Elop has done his best to suggest that Android was never under serious consideration. But it seems Nokia at least got as far as experimenting with it. Images leaked last week appear to show a Nokia smartphone, similar in appearance to an N9, running a version of Google's Android software.

Is it real? We reckon so - the quality of the shot is poor, but Android appears to be having trouble running at the right size on Nokia's high-resolution screen: something that could easily be a problem when porting new software to a device, but not an effect any faker would particularly want to create.

Does this create any likelihood Nokia will relent and release an Android device? Not really. The company's deal with Microsoft is worth millions of dollars. But, along with the N9, it's a fascinating glimpse of how an alternative future Nokia could have looked. For a sense of how this reality's future Nokias will look, see the next story.

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