Shortly after launching its new Android-based X-series of phones, Nokia has made the Nokia X Platform SDK available to developers. On its download page, the Finns state that approximately 75% of regular Android apps are ready to run on the X series without modifications. The other 25% are incompatible due to their reliance on Google services for push notifications, maps, and in-app payments. They will have to be hooked up to Nokia's own services - a process that should take developers "around 8 hours of porting".
Nokia has provided an app testing facility on the SDK's website. Developers can upload their .apk files and learn whether they will run on X devices from the get-go. It has also prepared a complete documentation, and some interesting details. The Nokia X platform is built on Android Open Source Project v4.1.2. and has custom APIs for in-app payments, HERE Maps, and Nokia Notifications. It seems Nokia has done its homework in regards to today's app distribution. The company clearly states that the Nokia X devices are targeted at the fast-growing emerging markets, where a smartphone might be the first Internet-connected device for many customers.
Obviously, bank cards are still rare in developing countries, which got Nokia thinking how to secure an income from apps. As in-app purchases currently generate over 90% of all app revenue, the solution is in the Nokia Store's operator billing network, which covers 160+ operators in 60+ countries. The reliability of operator billing in emerging markets has been proven on Nokia's current feature phones, where 99% of app revenue comes through this payment solution.
It seems that a lot of work went into the Nokia X platform, which essentially emulates both the Windows Phone user experience and the Google services to provide a compelling low-end phone. As Nokia understands that its Asha platform has become too limited for further growth, switching to Android without angering Microsoft too much and not bowing to Google was probably the smartest thing to do.
Be sure to check out our hands-on impressions from the new Nokia X devices, which we gathered at this year's MWC.