Nokia seeks to realise extra revenues outside of its Windows partnership with Microsoft as it launched on Tuesday two new smartphones that will cost no more than $US100 but with features closely akin to that of the firm's flagship Lumia handsets.
The new units, Nokia said, are the Asha 308 and the Asha 309 touchscreen phones, which are similarly packed with "a full smartphone experience enriched with new Nokia web services and developer tools."
The basic smartphones are expected to ship out by Q4 2012, likely coinciding with the debut of the first Nokia Lumia handsets that will be powered by the Windows Phone 8, Microsoft's smartphone version of the Windows 8 OS that will hit the global market in Oct 26 this year.
The new Asha models, which run on Nokia's in-house Series 40 mobile platform, will be dirt cheap at about $US99 per unit but will not be short of functions, features and contents.
The Asha Touch series, according to Nokia, will be able to access Lumia's premium services such as the Nokia Nearby Web, which is essentially a web search tool, and the Nokia Life+.
The latter delivers wealth of information in education, health and news and is available in English and local languages where the Asha 308 and 309 will be marketed.
Also, Nokia has designed the new mobile phones to lure first time buyers and expect to wow them through straightforward but rich mobile computing experience. Both Asha units come with a newly improved Xpress Browser, which Nokia said increases web page loading and surfing efficiencies by up to 90 per cent.
But the core features of the Asha Touch series are portability and connectivity, with the 308 able to accommodate multiple and easy SIM card switches while the 309 is a ready gateway for Wi-Fi net surfing.
Coupled with the phones' capacitive touchscreen feature, the new "Asha Touch family delivers all the core smartphone experiences," IDC's Will Stofega said in a Nokia press release issued today.
In the process, Nokia is hopeful that young mobile phone users won over by the Asha series will eventually buy into the high-end phone models that Nokia sells.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Timo Toikkanen, Nokia's chief of mobile division, observed that "people buying the more affordable smartphones are also very aspirational."
"By introducing the Nokia Asha 308 and Nokia Asha 309, we're expanding our affordable smartphone lineup and bringing new mobile experiences to more people," Mr Toikkanen added.
Beefing up its basic phone is understandable for Nokia since it drew about half of its June 2012 quarter revenues to the total numbers of affordable phones that were sold in the period, analysts said.
Nokia is also working relentlessly to recapture the overall mobile phone leadership that it held for more than a decade, which Samsung has snatched earlier this year.
Yet like in the major smartphone competition, in which Nokia has to contend with Apple and Android handsets, the once dominant phone manufacturer needs to bolster its product lineups and marketing approach against emerging and well-established players, Bloomberg said on Tuesday.
The media firm noted too that even in the markets, such as China, considered by Nokia as its bastion, competition has become stiff. Aside from the usual suspects like Samsung, the phone maker must now deal with new but formidable Chinese brands Huawei and ZTE, Bloomberg added.
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