MWC: Nokia Goes After the Next Billion

Nokia has underscored its commitment to connecting the next billion to the Internet by releasing five new affordable handsets, including Nokia X, a family of smartphones that run Android apps, Microsoft services and signature Nokia experiences.

The Devices are summarized below:

·The Nokia X, Nokia X+ and Nokia XL are priced to capture the fast-growing affordable smartphone market and provide an on-ramp to Lumia and Microsoft services like Skype, OneDrive and
·The Nokia Asha 230 is Nokia’s most affordable full-touch Asha device to date, priced at EUR 45.
·The Nokia 220 is an Internet-ready mobile phone with social apps, priced at only EUR 29.

Stephen Elop, executive vice president of Nokia’s Devices & Services, commented on the launches:
“Nokia has connected billions of people around the world, and today we demonstrated how our portfolio is designed to connect the next billion people to great experiences.”

“Our deliberate approach is to offer four tiers of products including our affordable entry-level devices like the new Nokia 220; our entry-level Asha touch phones like the new Nokia Asha 230; our new Nokia X, Nokia X+ and Nokia XL smartphones primarily for growth economies; and our Lumia portfolio, which is where we introduce the greatest innovation and provide full compatibility with the Microsoft experience,” he added.

Tony Cripps, principal analyst, at Ovum commented: “It’s too early to call the launch of Nokia X a game changer. However, it definitely shakes up an industry that has become fixated on incremental advances and smart accessories as growth drivers of hardware sales, largely at the expense of further ecosystem development. Nokia’s strength in developing markets will be a major catalyst for sales of Nokia X, which brings a level of design and build quality to the low-price smartphone segment that is largely lacking today. Other OEMs will be forced to up their game in this key market segment.
“Both developers and consumers will see significant benefit from the emergence of Nokia X, which offers a viable alternative to the Google-centric view of low-cost smartphones that is prevalent today. This may well stimulate a response from Google, especially in developing markets where its focus on ecosystem monetization has been limited. Microsoft’s pragmatism in adopting AOSP gives it a chance of finally taking the global consumer technology fight to Google, Apple, and Samsung. The result, in the long term, may be a company barely recognizable as the one we know today.

“Ovum believes this announcement presents some attractive opportunities for communications service providers and developers. The new Nokia X smartphones offer a desirable alternative to cheap Android devices for consumers in both mature and developing markets and will help provide balance within carrier device portfolios at both the OEM and software platform level.Nonetheless, carriers should be aware of how highly integrated device-and-service offerings may limit their ability to offer value-added services to subscribers. Look to add value where it is not provided by Microsoft and Nokia rather than competing directly with them.

“We also suggest that Android application developers welcome Nokia X, both as an additional channel to market and as a new revenue opportunity. Minimal porting overhead means there is little reason to wait for a critical mass of devices before committing to supporting the platform. Traditional Microsoft developers will see no immediate benefit from Nokia X, although in the longer run we would expect it to become a part of the Microsoft developer toolchain, centered on Visual Studio. A wait-and-see strategy may be the most pragmatic approach for Microsoft developers for now.”

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine