Nokia aims newest touchscreen device at sub-$100 market

Nokia has announced a new touchscreen device in its Asha range which will retail for under $100. The Asha 501 is aimed squarely at low-income markets, including emerging markets, and Nokia has stated that it “expects to sell 100 million of the new generation Asha smartphones over the coming years”.

The 501 is the first device in the range to use the newest version of the Asha platform, which provides developers with the capability to create apps for the sub-$100 devices. Nokia has lost ground in the mass-market device space to Chinese and Indian manufacturers, and the Asha range is aimed at addressing claims that the vendor lacks strong low-cost touchscreen devices.

The new device features a 3-inch screen and supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Single and dual SIM models are available, and both boast a 3.2 megapixel camera. It currently does not offer 3G capabilities but will be updated to support Nokia’s Here location-based services, which will “initially include basic mapping services”.

Nokia has stated that the phone is expected to be launch via “approximately 60 operators and distributors in more than 90 countries worldwide” in June 2013. Its recommended retail price before taxes and subsidies is $99.

Marco Quatorze, Value Added Services Director for America Movil, said of the Asha 501: "We are certain that this innovative device will follow the successful footprint of the Nokia Asha family, combining affordability with the best communication and Internet browsing capabilities.”

Asia-Pacific operator Telkomsel is also supporting the arrival of the new Nokia Asha, with Chief Marketing Officer Alistair Johnston saying:  "The Nokia Asha 501 will help us to boost the mobile Internet in Indonesia. It is powered by innovations like the Nokia Xpress Browser, based on very efficient data consumption technology which allows us to offer the best data plan tariff. We have a billing agreement with Nokia that supports the creation of local applications absolutely relevant to Indonesian consumers." 

Commenting on the partnership, Andre Beyers, Chief Marketing Officer for Airtel Africa, said: "The collaboration with Nokia is in line with our strategy of enabling people to access data in Africa as we seek to bridge the digital divide across the continent. We're already witnessing tremendous growth in data use across the 17 countries where we operate. The provision of free Facebook access is an excellent proposition to the millions of Airtel consumers." 

The Asha 501has the potential to give the company the edge in emerging markets, where the device has already been touted for success, as noted by Upstream CEO Marco Veremis. "By offering this low-cost handset, thousands of emerging market consumers will be able to jump the gap between feature phones to smartphones – which are highly desirable because of the data, mobile applications and social connectivity they offer. Our recent research found that almost a third of emerging market consumers want a phone priced between the $1 - $150 bracket. Couple this with the fact that Nokia is the second most desired brand in these lucrative markets, the company has a strong chance of monetising this mass of new consumers", he observes.

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