Nokia aims to conquer low and mid-range, but is there any chance of success?

The Nokia Asha 501 was announced at a global launch event in New Delhi earlier this week to much praise, mainly regarding the Lumia-esque differential styling, the “swipe” UI, and the price.

For anyone not familiar with the Asha line, it’s the Finnish-manufacturer’s solution to emerging markets; offering fantastic devices at extremely affordable pricing whilst being incredibly attractive.

Taking the 501 as an example of this, the device which is available in many fluorescent colours (and playful design is reminiscent of the Jawbone ‘Jambox’), offers a N9-like UI reviewers describe as being “super fluid” and “remarkable how Nokia managed to get this working so well on this hardware.”

Camera, unique hardware and UI design, all for less than $99. Question is, are there any other competitors? Or is Nokia set to dominate the emerging markets?

Not currently. This latest announcement may change matters; but Samsung is currently the most desired manufacturer in India, Brazil, and Saudi Arabia according to Upstream research on Forbes.

Upstream CEO Marco Veremis commented on Nokia’s Asha 501 and the impact it could have: “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.”

Speaking of his company’s research into the market, he added: “Recent research we conducted found that almost a third of emerging market consumers want a phone priced between the $1 - $150 brackets. 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.”

Upstream’s previous research pits buyers as wanting Samsung as their next handset at 32%, with Nokia following at 22%, Apple at 21%, and BlackBerry at 10%.

India-based vendors may further give Nokia some trouble; with manufacturers Karbonn, Micromaxx and Lava increasing their share of India’s smartphone market to from 4% to 12% between July and December 2012.

Apple is also bullish for these markets; rumours persist of a cheaper iPhone to be released this year, which may really disrupt the industry. In fact Pegatron, who supplies Apple components, plans to bolster its Chinese workforce by up to 40 percent in the second half of 2013, fueling speculation that low-cost iPhone is on the horizon.

So does Nokia have any chance?  It’s possible; the mid-range may revive the company’s success. The Lumia line which is dedicated to the Windows Phone platform, offers a fresh experience for users wanting a change from Android and iOS in Nokia’s unique (many would argue unbeatable) design.

It’s too early to tell the success of what appears to be Nokia’s bestselling Lumia, the mid-range 720; this morning alone I witnessed four people on the train using the device, which doesn’t seem to equate with Nokia’s 5% market share in the UK.

Many eyes will of course be on WWDC, where Apple may disrupt the market again by releasing a cheaper iPhone (undoubtedly still not ‘cheap’ cheap), whereas my eyes will be on Nokia’s Q2 2013 results for the Lumia 720.

Do you see Nokia having a revival through success in the low or mid-range markets? Will Apple attempt to tap into the potential in emerging countries?

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