LONDON-In addition to announcing two new smartphones based on Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system this week, Nokia also launched four mobile feature phones that offer stylish design, a rich social experience and location-aware technology.
At the Nokia World 2011 show here, Nokia unveiled the Nokia Asha 300, Nokia Asha 303, Nokia Asha 200 and Nokia Asha 201. Nokia officials said these devices blur the line between smartphones and feature phones, offering QWERTY and touch-screen experiences, combined with fast and easy access to the Internet, integrated social networking, messaging and world-class applications from the Nokia Store.
In his keynote at Nokia World, Stephen Elop, president and CEO of Nokia, said one of his company’s goals is to tap into “the next billion”-that is the next billion people to connect to the Internet via mobile devices. As such, Elop said Nokia continues its mission to deliver high-quality, stylish devices that provide the best access to social networks, the Internet and information. He said the next billion users want access to innovations such as easy-to-use dual SIM, local services and content, and third-party apps, all with a superior user experience for which Nokia mobile phones are known.
Derived from Hindi-meaning “hope”-Asha signifies Nokia’s focus on positive user experiences and connecting millions of people to new opportunities that help them reach their aspirations, Elop said.
The Asha mobile phone family includes the Nokia Asha 303, which is designed with metallic finishes and combines a large, 2.6-inch capacitive touch screen with a high-quality QWERTY keypad. The Asha 303 is built with Internet and social network ease in mind.
The device harnesses a 1GHz engine, 3G and wireless LAN (WLAN) to deliver a fast Internet experience, Nokia said. Social networks, email and IM are at the center of the experience, easily accessible from the home screen. The Asha 303 is powered by the cloud-based Nokia Browser, which by compressing the Web by up to 90 percent provides higher speeds and more affordable access to the Internet.
Entertainment and applications are also a core part of the Nokia Asha 303 offering. Angry Birds Lite, the popular mobile game, comes preinstalled, together with support for other globally relevant applications such as Facebook Chat, Whatsapp messaging and the latest release of Nokia Maps for Series 40 (in selected markets). The estimated retail price for the Asha 303 will be approximately 115 euros ($161), excluding taxes and subsidies. It is expected to start shipping in the fourth quarter of 2011.
The Nokia Asha 300 is a touch device that also offers the convenience of a keypad. And it too has a 1GHz processor and 3G, as well as Angry Birds Lite preloaded. Users have fast access to messaging, email and instant messaging from the home screen and can swipe to access apps, music or games from the Nokia Store.
The Nokia Asha 300 comes with a 5-megapixel camera, a music player, FM radio and Bluetooth connectivity, and it can handle memory cards up to 32GB. The estimated retail price for the Nokia Asha 300 will be about 85 euros ($119), excluding taxes and subsidies. It is expected to start shipping in the fourth quarter of 2011.
The Nokia Asha 200 is Nokia’s latest dual-SIM phone with Easy Swap functionality, allowing users to easily change their second SIM without switching the device off. It is a QWERTY phone designed to meet the needs of young, urban consumers who want to constantly stay in touch. The Asha 200 features integrated social networking, email and IM, adding RenRen, Orkut and Flickr support. The phone can carry thousands of songs with support for 32GB memory cards and provides a battery for 52 hours of playback time. The estimated retail price for the Nokia Asha 200 will be about 60 euros ($84) excluding taxes and subsidies. It is expected to start shipping in the fourth quarter of 2011.
The single-SIM version of the Nokia Asha 200, the Nokia Asha 201, also is targeted at young consumers who want to stay socially connected, are price conscious and like listening to music. The Nokia Asha 201 has great music features, including a high-performing loudspeaker, enhanced stereo FM radio and ringtone tuning. The Asha 201 also supports push email as well as the popular Whatsapp messaging app. The estimated retail price for the Nokia Asha 201 will be about 60 euros ($84). It is expected to start shipping in the first quarter of 2012.
Reaching the Next Billion
These new feature phones will help Nokia reach out to that “next billion,” Elop said. “We think the next billion is a really young crowd. … Our focus, particularly in emerging markets, is to bridge the digital divide through mobile devices,” he said.
Elop said the new Asha phones blur the lines between feature phones and smartphones.
Yet, with these new devices, “We can bridge the digital divide and bring data to people who never had it before,” said Blanca Juti, vice president of product marketing for mobile phones at Nokia.
IDC analyst Al Hilwa, in attendance at Nokia World, raised the irony of Nokia announcing a new set of phones based on its Series 40 operating system-which supports Java-at the same event it unveiled its first Windows phones.
“That’s sort of like the old Java versus .NET battle all over again,” Hilwa said jokingly. “The apps on the Asha phones will be Java-based, while developers will be using Visual Studio and .NET related technology to build apps for Nokia’s Windows Phone-based devices.”
Meanwhile, with an aim to continuously improve its location-based offerings, Nokia showcased the latest versions of Nokia Maps and Nokia Drive for Windows Phone. These and other map-related applications introduced at Nokia World aim to make Nokia Maps relevant for commuters and to find interesting places in the city where people live, Nokia officials said. In addition to its world-class, free walk-and-drive navigation for more than 100 countries worldwide, the Nokia Public Transport application tracks public transportation directly on a mobile device in more than 430 cities worldwide, including up-to-the-minute updates on bus and train routes for 45 cities.
Nokia also introduced Nokia Pulse, which allows location-tagged updates and photos to be sent privately, adding location to conversations with the people who matter most.
In addition, Nokia showcased Nokia Live View, which turns the phone’s camera view finder into a reality augmenting tool. With Nokia Live View, a phone can be pointed to a building or street and their names become superimposed over them, offering one-click access to detailed information about businesses, restaurants or attractions.
All the applications announced today are available at Nokia’s Beta Labs.
Nokia also announced that Nokia Maps is now powering Yahoo Maps, starting with the United States and Canada. In addition, the company announced an agreement with the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority to develop a near field communications (NFC)-based smartphone ticketing solution to pilot on New York regional commuter trains starting before the end of 2011.