Nokia targets emerging markets with Android phones

Feb 24, 2014 by Anick Jesdanun
A man rides his bicycle outside the Mobile World Congress, the world's largest mobile phone trade show in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

(AP)—Nokia is targeting emerging markets with three low-cost smartphones that use Google's Android operating system rather than the Windows Phone software from Microsoft, which is about to take over Nokia's handset business.

Nokia will ditch many of the Google services that come with Android and use instead the Microsoft services such as Bing search, Skype communications and OneDrive file storage. Its home screen sports larger, resizable tiles resembling those on Windows phone.

"More and more people are buying smartphones for less that 100 euros," Stephen Elop, Nokia executive vice president, said Monday as he presented the new phones at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. "That sub-100 range is a massive opportunity for us. According to analysts, it will grow four times as fast as rest of smartphone market."

Once the No. 1 maker of cellphones, Nokia has been struggling to keep up with the iPhone and devices running Android. And even as competition intensifies for high-end smartphones, Nokia has been hit by competition from cheaper phones made by Chinese and other Asian companies.

The Nokia X is on sale immediately for 89 euros ($122). The Nokia X+ will cost 99 euros and the Nokia XL will cost 109 euros, with both going on sale in early March.

The Nokia X and X+ both have 4-inch screens, measured diagonally, and a 3-megapixel rear camera. The X+ also offers SD card for storage. The XL has a 5-inch screen and two cameras, the rear one at 5 megapixels. Still, 8 megapixels or greater is typical for high-end phones.

"This may be a few years too late, but it is a much needed move by Nokia to recapture share of the smartphone market by becoming part of the Android ecosystem," said David McQueen, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media, a London-based research firm.

Elop said all three phones will be "available broadly around the world, starting in growth markets." The aim is to make the Nokia X a bridge to high-end Windows smartphones under the Lumia brand.

They won't be available in the U.S., Canada, Korea and Japan in part to avoid competing with Lumia phones, which cost hundreds of dollars in the U.S. without subsidies from phone carriers.

Elop said that despite the use of Android, Nokia remains committed to Windows and Microsoft, which is buying Nokia's phone business and patent rights in a 5.4 billion euro ($7.3 billion) deal expected to be completed next month.

Timo Toikkanen, Nokia's executive vice president for mobile phones, said Nokia went with Android in part because of the greater availability of apps, particularly those tailored for local markets. He said the aim is to lure customers who wouldn't have bought a high-end Windows phone anyway, but might have gone for a rival Android offering.

In a blog post, Microsoft said it is pleased that the new devices will include Microsoft's services, as it "provides the opportunity to bring millions of people, particularly in growth markets, into the Microsoft family."

Nokia announced two even cheaper phones on Monday, also expected to go on sale in early March:

- The Nokia 220 is meant as a starter phone for 29 euros ($40). It will have Facebook, Twitter and some games already installed, but users won't be able to add apps.

- The Asha 230 will offer more options for apps. The 45-euro ($62) phone is meant for people who are not yet ready for the Nokia X. It comes with a touch screen, but lacks the power and versatility found in smartphones.

For a first-time smartphone experience, Nokia Corp. is pushing the Nokia X. Because it uses Android, it will be able to run most Android apps. However, app developers may have to tweak some of their software because the phone doesn't have key Google services.

For instance, location services will have to be designed for Nokia's Here mapping software rather than Google Maps. In-app payments will have to be tweaked to allow billing through mobile carriers rather than credit cards, which many people in emerging markets lack.

Both the Asha and the Nokia X will have a feature called Fastlane. It remembers your favorite apps and services and offers quick access, along with recent notifications, on a single screen that is one swipe away from the home screen.

Explore further: Nokia touts video recording in new Lumia phone

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

EU clears Microsoft Nokia mobile phone deal

Dec 04, 2013

The European Commission approved on Wednesday Microsoft's nearly 5.5-billion-euro takeover of the mobile phone business of Finland's Nokia which once dominated the global industry.

Nokia launches cheaper Windows smartphone

Feb 25, 2013

Nokia unveiled a cheaper model in its Lumia smartphone range, powered by Microsoft's Windows phone software, as it tries to regain dominance in emerging markets like China.

Nokia to pay outgoing CEO Elop $25 million

Sep 19, 2013

Nokia Corp. says it will pay outgoing CEO Stephen Elop a compensation package of some $25 million (19 million euros) when he leaves the company to move over to Microsoft.

Recommended for you

Japan's digital eyes show your emotions for you

Apr 21, 2014

Can't be bothered to show anyone what you're thinking? Then a Japanese scientist has the answer—a pair of digital eyes that can express delight and anger, or even feign boredom.

Review: With Galaxy S5, Samsung proves less can be more

Apr 20, 2014

Samsung Electronics Co. has produced the most formidable rival yet to the iPhone 5S: the Galaxy S5. The device, released over the weekend, is the fifth edition of the company's successful line of Galaxy S ...

Five features an Amazon phone might offer (Update)

Apr 18, 2014

A report this week in The Wall Street Journal that Amazon is planning to release a smartphone has prompted industry analysts and technology blogs to muse about what the device might offer.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

ViperSRT3g
not rated yet Feb 25, 2014
Although it's somewhat addressed in the article, it still leaves me wondering why they would go ahead with a line of cheap Android powered phones immediately before being purchased by Microsoft to produce Windows Phones. I get that it was for the explicit purpose of getting a foot in the door of the cheaper phone market, but once you have one of these phones, can you expect any OS or Firmware updates? Or will the line of phones be forgotten because of the Windows Phones gaining greater precedence in their marketing goals?

More news stories

Amazon Prime wins streaming deal with HBO

Amazon scored a deal Wednesday to distribute old shows from premium cable TV channel HBO to its monthly Prime subscribers, landing a blow on rival Netflix in the streaming video battle.

Is nuclear power the only way to avoid geoengineering?

"I think one can argue that if we were to follow a strong nuclear energy pathway—as well as doing everything else that we can—then we can solve the climate problem without doing geoengineering." So says Tom Wigley, one ...

Robot scouts rooms people can't enter

(Phys.org) —Firefighters, police officers and military personnel are often required to enter rooms with little information about what dangers might lie behind the door. A group of engineering students at ...

Cyber buddy is better than 'no buddy'

A Michigan State University researcher is looking to give exercise enthusiasts the extra nudge they need during a workout, and her latest research shows that a cyber buddy can help.