In case you didn’t already know, Nokia just announced its first Windows Phone devices. While an awful lot of people are assessing whether the Lumia series could dig the Finnish firm out of its rut, today also saw Nokia make a significant move for the low-cost smartphone market with the launch Asha.
This line-up of four devices is aimed at filling the void between feature phones and smartphones and it has the potential to be more significant than its more illustrious Lumia brethren.
Although Nokia may be struggling in the glamorous smartphone market, the Finish firm remains hugely successful in emerging markets across Asia. Its devices are commonplace across the continent, and in other developing areas across the world, where many average mobile phone users cannot afford a sophisticated smartphone.
While a number of manufacturers are performing with promise in the low-cost smartphone bracket – primarily piggy-backing on Android, whose shipments have leapt up as a result – no single company has released a must-have, ‘iPhone-equivalent’ for those on a budget. Until now perhaps.
The Nokia brand remains strong and visible amongst the type of customers its Asha device are targeting, feature phones owner that are looking for more and are particularly keen on mobile Internet access.
During the Asha launch, Nokia CEO Steve Elop told the Nokia World audience that the company is targeting “the next billion” with the Asha range designed specifically for “a really young crowd in high-growth, emerging markets [who] are savvy mobile users”.
Nokia’s new set of device would give existing customers in developing markets the opportunity to upgrade to a smartphone-like device at a never before seen low cost. With pricing starting at just €60 (for the 200 and 201), moving on to $85 (the 300) and $115 (the 303), the Asha range ‘out-cheapens’ even the lowest priced Android devices. This accessibility could open a huge, new market for mobile Internet services, social media and a whole range of new services, which include Angry Birds of course.
Nokia knows emerging markets, emerging markets know Nokia. While it was written off as dead and buried yesterday, the company might just be the one that brings the Internet to the masses in Asia.