Nokia has been trounced in smartphone sales in recent years, but its continued success with feature phones and now budget smartphones around the world could see the next-generation of upgraders leaning toward the Finnish firm over Apple, Samsung and others.
Selling Asha Around the World
In the latest mobile stats, Gartner still has Nokia as the global No. 2 seller of mobile devices (behind Samsung), largely powered by sales of its Asha range in regions like India, Asia and South America. The latest Asha device, the 310, is pretty much a $100 smartphone packed with apps, games and social media.
Behind a 3" scratch-proof, capacitive touchscreen and a two-megapixel camera, it comes with a 4GB memory card and support for a further 32GB of external memory, Wi-Fi plus dual-SIMs which is a must in many places around the world. Its Xpress browser compresses data to minimize download sizes and there are counters to help manage any bandwidth caps users may have.
While Nokia is pushing to get back in the smartphone game in the west with its Lumia range, it is putting great emphasis on Asha sales that could well see users upgrading to Lumia devices in future. That's a plan that is key to the company's revival and one that Apple, which is making tentative steps into markets like India, has little answer to.
Catering for the Next Generation
All of these features should see Nokia prosper as these markets mature, especially as it produces a range of phones for all budgets under the Lumia brand. That's something Samsung is doing pretty well at with the ever-widening Galaxy line-up, but leaves you wondering where Apple fits in.
That's likely why there was so much speculation about a cheap Apple phone, one that it could sell in these markets, and use its marketing power to keep out of its top-tier markets, to ensure we all buy only the latest high-end stuff.
Tim Cook made mention at yesterday's Goldman Sachs conference that he sees; "a smartphone market that is projected to double in the next few years. This is a huge market. On a longer-term basis, all phones will be smartphones and there's a lot more people in the world than 1.4 billion, and people love to upgrade their phones very regularly."
That sounds like Apple is acutely aware of a market that doesn't need 16GB storage, 4G or retina displays, so perhaps Apple really has a super-product that the emerging markets will lap up, with a dash of the Apple magic to ensure future loyalty.