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I’ve constructed this headline:

“Opera Mini to become the default browser on Microsoft’s (ex Nokia’s) feature phones”

So, the phones in question used to be produced by Nokia, but Microsoft has since retired the Nokia brand and will start releasing their phones under its own name. Is “Microsoft’s (ex Nokia’s)” a valid expression for conveying this.

  • 1
    "formerly" might fit better in the sentence. – Arradras Nov 13 '14 at 0:57
  • @Arradras Ah yes, that does fits good. But I’m still curios if “ex” is valid. – Šime Vidas Nov 13 '14 at 0:59
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If I were presented with the headline

Opera Mini to become the default browser on Microsoft’s (ex Nokia’s) feature phones

and I didn't know anything about the history of the companies involved, I might suppose that Microsoft had formerly called itself Nokia but had subsequently changed its name. The same problem would arise if the headline read

Opera Mini to become the default browser on Microsoft’s (formerly Nokia’s) feature phones

To avoid that misreading (if you think it's a problem), I would recommend one of two alternatives. If the phones still have a Nokia brand logo on them somewhere, I would go with this headline:

Opera Mini to become the default browser on Microsoft’s Nokia feature phones

If Nokia has vanished from the phones altogether, I would try something like this:

Opera Mini to become the default browser on Microsoft’s Nokia-designed feature phones

or

Opera Mini to become the default browser on Microsoft’s feature phones from Nokia

If you're pressed for space, you can always delete "the" before "default browser" to help accommodate the longer wording elsewhere in the headline.

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In news' headlines the space and hence the numbers of characters is very limited. Also they need to be short to attract readers quickly, that's why one should not expect them to use perfect English.

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For a phone to have been ex-Nokia would mean that it would once have been Nokia's and now isn't, which doesn't really make sense: you can't change who manufactured a phone in the past! Because you're talking about new phones, I don't think this is an appropriate phrase to use. Most news articles I've seen simply call them 'Microsoft's non-Nokia phones', and that seems like a good option for you too, or perhaps 'Microsoft's non-Nokia-branded phones'. Alternatively you could say 'Microsoft's self-branded phones', but then you'd need to leave Nokia out of the headline.

  • The manufacturer (and even the engineering team) stays the same. This change only affect the phone’s brand. So what used to be a Nokia device yesterday, suddenly becomes a Microsoft device today (same phone model). The term “Microsoft’s non-Nokia phones” is confusing, since someone might assume that Microsoft started producing phones themselves (which they didn’t). – Šime Vidas Nov 13 '14 at 1:22
  • No, old Nokia branded phones are still branded as Nokia. The change only affects new phones. And it may be confusing seeing as Microsoft bought Nokia's phone division, but it's true that Microsoft is producing them now. – curiousdannii Nov 13 '14 at 1:25
  • Ok, from what I read, the Lumia line (smartphones) will get the Microsoft brand, but the Asha line (low-end feature phones) retains the Nokia bran. Oh, well. – Šime Vidas Nov 13 '14 at 1:34
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It's valid. NOKIA sold its mobile phones division to Microsoft. NOKIA used to support those phones, now it's Microsoft's job to do so.

Do not use "formerly",it'd give the impression that NOKIA transformed into or joined with Microsoft, while in reality both companies still exist separately.

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