BLM_FINLAND NOKIA

Before Microsoft bought Nokia, the smartphone manufacturer was reportedly testing Android versions of its Lumia phones. (Tomi Setala / Bloomberg / September 3, 2013)

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Microsoft's purchase of Nokia came as a bit of a surprise last week, but a report Friday seems to shed light on why Microsoft may have decided to pay up and buy its partner: Nokia was testing Android versions of its devices.

Nokia built versions of its Lumia smartphones that could run Android, Google's mobile software, instead of Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 system, according to a report Friday by the New York Times

Nokia and Microsoft agreed to a partnership in 2011 that would require the two to work together until 2014, but the Android Lumia revelation appeared to indicate the Finnish phone maker was open to leaving Microsoft after the deal ran out.

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Since the partnership began, Nokia has released dozens of devices that have received critical praise, including its latest phone, the Lumia 1020, which boasts a 41-megapixel camera. All the while, Microsoft has released far fewer updates to its software and it has failed to curate top apps, like Instagram and YouTube, onto its platform.

Issues in the relationship led to a July report that Nokia was frustrated with Microsoft.

"We are trying to evolve the cultural thinking [at Microsoft] to say 'time is of the essence,'" Nokia's vice president Bryan Biniak told the International Business Times. "Waiting until the end of your fiscal year when you need to close your targets doesn't do us any good when I have phones to sell today."

According to the report, Microsoft knew about Nokia's dalliance with Android, and that may have prompted Microsoft to get serious about intervening.

Neither Microsoft nor Nokia are commenting, but the report certainly makes the $7.2-billion acquisition make more sense.

Microsoft and Nokia were already working together exclusively, so the only thing a purchase would do is ensure a long-term commitment from both sides.

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