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Nokia Lumia 'alive and kicking'

04 March 2014, 12:42Duncan Alfreds

Barcelona - Nokia's launch of a smartphone capable of running Android applications is not an admission that Lumia has failed.

The company which is set to be purchased by Microsoft for $7.2bn, announced at the Mobile World Congress the launch of the Nokia X series of smartphones capable of running most Android apps.

"No, I think what we shared today is that there is a set of capabilities that at a specific price point that we can serve with this device and we're taking advantage of it," Bryan Biniak, Nokia head of Global Developer Relations told News24 about the direction the company was set to take.

The X series has a price range that starts from €89 up to €109, indicating that it is aimed at developing markets like South Africa, India, Brazil and China among others.

The devices are expected to be on sale in SA within weeks as the company is in the process of concluding talks with mobile operators.

Android compatibility makes sense since the platform commands 80% of the global smartphone market share.


Biniak said that the new devices closed a market area where Nokia could grow its footprint, particularly in developing markets where it has a strong market presence and brand recognition.

"This is a segment that's growing that we weren't in and this is the best device to take advantage of it today," he said.

The X series sells for slightly more than the Asha devices and below the price point of the Lumia devices.

Analysts were positive about the new range of smartphones.

"This may be a few years too late, but it is a much needed move by Nokia to recapture share of the smartphone market by becoming part of the Android ecosystem," said David McQueen, principal analyst, Informa Telecoms and Media.

Biniak said that there was careful consideration in terms of pricing the X series, Asha, and Lumia devices. It is also worth noting that the target countries for the Asha and X phones are mostly prepaid markets where few people have the upfront cash to buy premium phones.

"In terms of the Asha devices continuing to do well and when you look at where they are in terms of abilities, where they are in terms of price points, they're pretty complementary," said Biniak.

Market share

He also promised that Nokia would not abandon the Asha range now that the X series was launched.

"We continue to work with developers for both devices, so the biggest developers are supporting applications on both devices concurrently, as well Lumia."

Nokia has a 44% market share in SA that includes feature phones. However the feature phone market is in serious decline and the company is racing to convert its users to migrate to smartphones.

To achieve this, it is driving down the price of its Asha range, and McQueen believes that Ahsa will eventually fade away.

"Over time, it is clear that Nokia will push down the price of these Android-based devices further, with the eventual aim of displacing its Asha range of phones," he said.

Biniak though said that the company is continuing to invest in its platforms, believing all three to be viable.

"From a validation standpoint, the fact that they're investing in all of them, suggests that there's a commercial opportunity for them to be successful."
This YouTube video illustrates Nokia's strategy with X series smartphones.

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