Nokia has quietly acquired a featurephone OS, Smarterphone, intended to dress the low-cost handsets up in the manner of their smartphone siblings. The acquisition, reported by previous owner Ferd Capital, took place in November last year, though neither Nokia nor Smarterphone have given any public indication of what they might be doing with the software.
Smarterphone's OS is targeted at cheap, simple devices, particularly those where carriers are keen to customize them. The company apparently provides not only the UI and apps, but the hardware abstraction layers, for improved performance on humble components, supporting multitasking, social networking integration, internet access and more.
Nokia currently uses Windows Phone on its smartphones, then a combination of S40 and Symbian on its more affordable devices. There has also been talk of a "Meltemi" platform in the labs, a new open-source OS following MeeGo and Maemo.
However, speculation has arisen over the past days of a purchase of the Nokia smartphone division by Microsoft, though Nokia itself adamantly denies that. The company spent a significant portion of its time at Nokia World 2011 on the Asha series of affordable handsets for developing markets, highlighting how S40 could make frugal use of simple processors to deliver smartphone-style experiences.
Update: Nokia has given us the following (terse) comment on the deal:
"Nokia acquired Smarterphone AS as part of our Next Billion strategy."