Nokia banks on Asha to target mass market

Nokia banks on Asha to target mass market

Summary: With its new Asha operating system and functional US$99 device, Nokia is trying to capture the mass consumer segment in countries like India and Indonesia: people still using devices with black-and-white displays.

TOPICS: Nokia, Mobile OS, India

Nokia is hoping its recently launched Asha software platform and debut of its US$99 Asha 501 handset will capture the attention of the mobile mass market in developling markets. The Asha platform is essentially an updated version of its long-running Series 40 operating system, which allows developers to create smartphone-like apps on feature phones.

Forrester India analyst Katyayan Gupta told ZDNet that Nokia was trying to capture the biggest consumer segment in countries like India and Indonesia, where most mobile phone users still own devices with black-and-white displays.

Nokia Asha 501.
He estimated that between 9 and 12 percent of India consumers own smartphones, while the majority owned a basic phone or no phone at all.
"There are a lot of positives about this phone. Nokia has certainly done its homework. It has very specifically focused on a certain segment of the consumers. It's not [a] phone for all. It's targeted with certain people in mind, certain people that make up the mass market," Gupta told ZDNet.
He said the carefully crafted software and hardware features of the debut Asha device give Nokia the best chance of successfully launching a new phone ecosystem.
"This phone is addressing the needs of those that can't afford a full-fledged smartphone," Gupta said.
For example, the Asha Xpress mobile browser, which compresses data by 90 percent to deliver Web pages faster and cheaper, is relevant in developing countries with 3G still at its infancy.
"2G will live in India for [only] the next three to five years. It's a long time since a phone came out with just 2G," he said.
The analyst also praised Nokia's guarantee that apps will be compatible on future versions of the Asha operating system for at least the next 18 months, addressing the fragmentation issue that prevents Android apps from working across all devices optimally.
For the debut 501 device, he pointed to the 48-day battery life, dual SIM capability, and free Facebook access as the key considerations for the mass market Indian mobile buyers.

Topics: Nokia, Mobile OS, India

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  • "fragmentation issue that prevents Android apps from working across all devices optimally."

    I can't believe that android fragmentation has to be mentioned in this context. how about the fragmentation of apple and windows - they won't run at all on this class device! that's a big problem.
    • It is a explanatory point

      and he mentions it in the context of explaining why Nokia uses Asha and not Android.
    • great

      great comment. mass
  • The new Asha phones are demeaning and degrading

    The specs are so poor that even in the 3rd world using this phone is quite shameful. I'd rather stick with a 5 year old SonyEriscsson than using this would-be smartphone.

    It's like : Hey I can't afford a real smartphone but nonetheless I wanna have widgets on the display.
    • No understanding of wealth in other countries

      From what I can dig up, you need $8,325 to be in the top 50% of wealth worldwide.

      Plenty of countries in the world have SKETCHY 2G coverage with only distant plans, if that, of even looking at 4G. A huge amount of the world is still without reliable electricity (if any at all) and proper plumbing. Try charging your power-hungry smartphone with a solar charger.

      Bill Gates is apparently wealthier than 140 nations. In an article from 3/23/2012, there are supposedly only 196 countries in the entire world. This means he is wealthier than over 70% of the countries in the world. According to wikipedia, in 2012 there were 24 countries with a GDP of less than 1 billion dollars with the lowest on the list being below $40,000,000.

      So yes... people (and countries) REALLY are that poor. For hundreds of millions of people in this world, they would rather have your 5 year old Sony phone to sell it for food and water than to actually use it as it would be of no use for them. To say the specs are shameful is showing just how spoiled you are and how much of a nice little protected bubble you live in.

      Personally, I think the bigger deal for developing/emerging markets is the Nokia 105 that is supposedly selling for $20 USD. Interestingly to me, the reality here is that the 105 would probably be perfect for grandparents and other technophobes to use as devices to call 911 in emergencies (considering that doesn't require active service). Additionally, the fact that they are available in bright colors means they are easier to find in those urgent circumstances. I'm sure you can DIY the answer button to be easily distinguishable from the rest.