12 August 2014

Microsoft stays committed to ultra-cheap phones.

Microsoft has just announced the launch of the Nokia 130, an ultra- low cost mobile phone, priced at 19 euros ($25; £15).

The entry-level Nokia 130 can play videos and MP3 music files on its 1.8in (4.6cm) screen.  However, the new phone lacks a data connection, meaning it cannot offer any of Microsoft’s internet services, or take part in Microsoft's wider "cloud first" strategy.

"This is a massive market segment, and there are not a lot of players in this segment for the reason that scale is really important," stated Jo Harlow, head of Microsoft's phones business.

Ms Harlow said that Microsoft was targeting the device at youngsters and low wage earners in emerging markets, and the handsets will be sold with other budget handsets running the Series 30+ operating system, which Microsoft acquired as part of its takeover of Nokia's handset division in April.

Ms Harlow confirmed, however, that the firm had called a halt to releasing further Asha and Android-powered Nokia X handsets - platforms that have the added ability of allowing users to install apps from Microsoft and third-party developers.  The phased-out ranges had previously been marketed as stepping stones to Nokia's more expensive and more powerful Lumia-branded Windows Phone handsets.

Microsoft's marketing materials for the new handset note that a recent study indicated more than 300 million sub-$35 (£21) contract-free handsets were sold a year.

The device is being launched initially in China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines and Vietnam.  No release date for UK yet.

Samsung, India's Micromax and the Chinese firm TCL offer rival "ultra-affordable" phones of their own.

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