Nokia has announced the release of a new smartphone, called the Asha 501, for an outright price of less than $100.
The new smartphone, which will run on the company’s low-end Series 40-based Asha Platform rather than Windows Phone, is expected to be available through about 60 operators and distributors in more than 90 countries.
The Asher 501 is designed to cash in on the rapidly-growing low-end smartphone market in emerging markets, including China, India and Latin America.
The device is powered by a 1 GHz processor and features 512 MB of RAM, up to 32 GB of additional memory, a 3-inch 320×240 px touchscreen, a 3.2 megapixel camera, WiFi and Bluetooth.
“The new Nokia Asha 501 raises the bar for what is possible in affordable smartphone design and optimisation,” says Nokia’s executive vice president of mobile phones, Timo Toikkanen.
“Many of the most popular applications are already available or in development for the Nokia Asha platform, including CNN, eBuddy, ESPN, Facebook, Foursquare, Line, LinkedIn, Nimbuzz, Pictelligent, The Weather Channel, Twitter, WeChat, World of Red Bull and games from Electronic Arts, Gameloft, Indiagames, Namco-Bandai and Reliance Games. WhatsApp and other key partners continue to explore new Asha,” Nokia states.
Last year, speculation emerged white-box vendors in China were already working on a $US50 outright smartphone, a price point at which it is believed the featurephone market in emerging markets would disappear.
Since then, a number of competitors have emerged in the battle for the low-end market, most notably Mozilla’s Firefox OS platform, which is backed by a number of industry giants, including Optus, Telstra, LG, Huawei and Sony.
As SmartCompany reported last month, in India smartphones accounted for 15.2 million of the 221.6 million mobile phones sold during 2012, creating a vast opportunity to grow the market with a low-cost device.
Similarly while China now boasts just over 1.12 billion mobile users, just 22% use 3G networks, leaving 873.5 million users yet to upgrade to 3G smartphones in the world’s largest mobile phone market.
“We are very happy to offer the new Nokia Asha 501 through our subsidiaries in the [Latin American] continent. 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,” says Marco Quatorze, value added services director for Carlos Slim’s Latin American telco America Movil.
“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,” says Airtel Africa chief marketing officer Andre Beyers.