Nokia is rolling out Microsoft Exchange support for four of its Asha smartphones, designed for emerging market business users.
Which leads to two immediate thoughts.
If you thought "Mail for Exchange" was a legacy, rarely used feature in Nokia phones, it's likely for two reasons. Exchange support is now readily available in most phones on the market, which, let's face it, in the enterprise is the iPhone (and still the BlackBerry, albeit being phased out). Both of these natively support the Microsoft email server.
Secondly, hardly anyone in Western business uses a Nokia phone anymore.
That said, it's not for the Western business user anymore. Asha is becoming an emerging market favorite among those in India, the Middle East and parts of Eastern Europe.
While Gmail and Google Apps-based email services are already available in the Asha software, it's a push in the right direction for businesses to get connected through their existing Exchange-based services on the devices.
Exchange compatibility now rids the requirement for POP or IMAP-based connectivity, allowing Asha users to keep their push email in check, as well as their contacts and calendars in sync. It's a small token on Nokia's behalf, but it shows that no matter how focused the company may be on its Windows Phone strategy, it's not leaving out its faithful customer base in regions where Lumia-based smartphones are not as readily available, or are too expensive.
The good news is that the software is updated and ready to work with Exchange 2003, 2007, 2010 servers and Microsoft Office 365, the software giant's cloud-based email service.
The software is available through the Nokia store for free, and is compatible with more than half a dozen Asha branded phones, including the Nokia Asha 308, Asha 309, Asha 310, and Asha 311.