There's been plenty of hype over the first official Windows Phone-powered devices that Nokia unveiled at Nokia World in London this week. But some of the devices the handset maker introduced for emerging markets could be just as important to the company's bottom line.
Nokia is rolling out a new family of what it deems "smarter" mobile phones called Asha. With Asha, which means "hope" in Hindi, Nokia aims to bring a line of devices to emerging markets that connect people with one another and with information. It's Nokia's value proposition for the next billion mobile phone users.
"The Asha line is highly competitive, starting as low as 60 euro. You can get a QWERTY phone with two SIM card slots and a really good user interface," said Avi Greengart, an analyst at Current Analysis. "Further up the line, Nokia has added touch and even touch with QWERTY."
Entry-Level Feature Phones
The Nokia Asha 200 is Nokia's latest dual-SIM phone. The device lets consumers change to a second SIM without switching the device off. The QWERTY phone targets young, urban consumers. Some of the features include integrated social networking, e-mail and instant messaging, along with RenRen, Orkut and Flickr support. It retails for 60 euros.
The single-SIM version is the Nokia Asha 201. It targets young consumers with social media and music in mind. The music-oriented device offers a loudspeaker, enhanced stereo FM radio and ringtone tuning. It supports up to 32 GB memory cards and provides a battery for 52 hours of music playback time. It also retails for 60 euros.
"These are feature phones, but they are adding applications to them all the time," Greengart said. "These products, combined with some of the dual-SIM products Nokia already has in emerging markets, are very exciting and should help Nokia claw back some market share that it has lost over the past few years due to management incompetence."
Further up the line, the Nokia Asha 303 dons metallic finishes. The device combines a large, 2.6-inch capacitive-touch screen with a QWERTY keypad. The Nokia Asha 303 is built with Internet and social networks ease in mind and offers a 1Ghz processor, 3G and Wi-Fi. Social networks, e-mail and IM are accessible from the homescreen. Angry Birds Lite comes pre-installed, together with support for Facebook Chat, WhatsApp messaging and the latest release of Nokia Maps for Series 40. The device should retail for about 115 euros.
Finally, the Asha 300 is a touchscreen device with a QWERTY keypad. It sports a 1GHz processor and 3G. The Asha 300 comes with a 5-megapixel camera, a music player, FM radio, Bluetooth connectivity and can handle memory cards up to 32GB. The estimated retail price is 85 euros.
"Nokia once had strong market share in emerging markets. Now that is down significantly but I would think these products would help bring Nokia back up," Greengart said. "With these products, Nokia's base is getting reinvigorated in emerging markets."