Hope for Nokia's Next Billion

Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK)'s first Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s Windows Phone smartphones for Europe may have stolen the show at Nokia World Wednesday morning, but CEO Stephen Elop also revealed an important line of mid-tier phones for developing markets. (See Nokia Ships First Windows Phone to Europe , Euronews: Nokia Unveils Windows Phones and Nokia Has to Rock Its World.)

The new Series 40 Asha feature phones are part of Nokia's push to get the "next billion" people connected to the Internet. Nokia says the Asha phones will deliver Web-browsing speeds comparable to smartphones via a browser it developed that uses the cloud to compress Web commands by 90 percent.

The phones include five models, priced between €60 (US$83) and 115 Euros ($160). The first three dual-SIM models, the touchscreen Asha 200, qwerty Asha 300 and qwerty/touch combo Asha 303, targeted at younger users in developing markets such as India, will be available by the end of the year with another model to follow in 2012.

The honorable intentions of its Asha (which means "hope" in Hindi) aside, the large mid- to low-tier market will be equally as important for Nokia even as it's busy clawing its way back into the high end. So far, India has been a bright spot for the company, and Nokia's new line of smartphone-like feature phones should maintain the momentum. (See India a Bright Spot for Nokia and Analyst: Nokia Faces Low-End Threat.)

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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