Nokia never joined the smartwatch craze before it got swallowed up by Microsoft last year, but that doesn’t mean the company had zero plans to do so.
Images of a Nokia smartwatch codenamed “Moonraker” recently emerged on a Tumblr blog run by Microsoft design employee Pei-Chi Hsieh. While the blog has since vanished, the images were spotted and recirculated by Evan Blass and The Verge, who’ve confirmed that Nokia did intend to bring a smartwatch to market.
The watch’s hardware isn’t a major departure from other smartwatches. If anything, the rectangular body and interchangeable color bands bring to mind Sony’s SmartWatch 3. The software, however, took a page from Microsoft’s “Metro” design language, with Live Tiles that provide a glimpse into apps like text messaging. (It’s unclear, however, what Nokia was using for an operating system.)
Sources have told The Verge that the Moonraker images were marketing material, not just concept art, and that Nokia showed off prototypes behind closed doors at Mobile World Congress in 2014. Nokia was reportedly planning to reveal the smartwatch alongside its Lumia 930 phone. This roughly jibes with earlier rumors of a Nokia watch coming in Q3 2014.
Those plans apparently fell apart, however, after Microsoft completed its acquisition of Nokia in April 2014. Instead of bringing Nokia’s smartwatch to market, Microsoft instead focused on its Microsoft Band fitness tracker , which launched last fall. The Verge claims that a second version of the Band is coming later this year, all but guaranteeing that Moonraker will never see the light of day.
Why this matters: Although Microsoft probably did the right thing by focusing on its own platform, Nokia’s funky style sense might have been a welcome addition to the smartwatch world, especially if you’re not into the bracelet-like stylings of the Microsoft Band. In any case, it’s fun to imagine an alternate reality where Nokia remained its own company, and not only continued producing Android phones but entered the wearable market as well.