Nokia was working on Android-powered Lumia phones ahead of Microsoft deal

Before Microsoft(s msft) announced its plan to buy Nokia’s Devices and Services division earlier this month, Nokia(s nok) was reportedly testing Google’s(s goog) Android operating system on its Lumia smartphone hardware. The New York Times Bits blog says that a team within Nokia had installed Android on its Lumia devices as part of a confidential project well ahead of negotiations with Microsoft.

This isn’t entirely surprising. Many people thought that Android would’ve been a smart route for the Finnish company to take. Back in 2010, somewhere between Symbian and Meego, my colleague Kevin Tofel outlined the reasons why Nokia should’ve adopted Android as it smartphone OS of choice: “The Finnish handset maker can save money, reduce development costs and still play to its hardware design strengths.” Windows Phone wasn’t yet in the picture, but it would show up in a major way seven months later when Nokia announced its partnership with Microsoft.

Nokia had an option to exit the partnership late next year, but that certainly can’t happen now. It’s interesting to think about how differently things could’ve gone if Nokia had decided to go with Google rather than Microsoft, but it looks like we’ll never know now.