Nokia 'Asha' Phones Essential For Grabbing First-Time Users, Analysts Claim

By Jonathan Charles | Sep 25, 2012 12:46 PM EDT

Nokia's Lumia 820 and 920 smartphones grabbed media and consumer attention, but the company also launched two low-end "Asha" phones. Nokia's Lumia phones target the mid- and high-end markets, but the Asha devices target low-end consumers, a market Nokia is struggling to capture; analysts agree that Nokia needs to focus on this demographic.

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"Winning over or keeping a first-time smartphone user in an emerging market offers Nokia a loyal customer for years to come. This is how Nokia dominated the market years ago," Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi said to Reuters.

Android's wealth of devices allows different demographics to buy into the platform. 

"The new Asha devices are essential to defend Nokia from a raft of low-cost Android alternatives. The continued strength of the mobile phone business is testament to Nokia's scale and distribution advantages. Defending that business is critical if Nokia's smartphone business is to weather the storm," analyst Geoff Blaber of CSS Insight added. 

Blaber was perhaps referring to Nokia's poor earnings. The company continues to lose money despite its Lumia devices selling four million units. The figures may seem impressive until compared to Apple selling five million iPhone 5s inside a week. Samsung's Galaxy S3 sold 20 million units and its Galaxy S3 is approaching 15 million units; Nokia lost its number-one status to Samsung earlier in the year. 

The phones will sell for $99, sans taxes, from the fourth quarter of 2012. Nokia is also launching the aforementioned Lumia phones on the same timeframe, though it did not announce specific details during the event. 

The Asha devices offer three-inch LCD displays, an 800MHz CPU, a two-megapixel rear camera, an 1100mAh battery, 20MB of internal storage, and a 2GB microSD card expandable to 32GB. EA bundles 40 free games with the phones.

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