But can it succeed in India against smartphones with just a featurephone?
The Asha series of featurephones recently got a facelift with the launched of the Nokia Asha 501. The Asha 501 features Nokia’s latest Asha platform which offers a UI that is similar to MeeGo from Nokia N9. Nokia has created a vibrant looking device that is quite distinct from other devices in this price segment. It comes with a lot of additional features and can accommodate two SIMs in its micro-SIM card slots.
India is the third biggest smartphone market in the world now, after the USA and China.
A deluge of low-cost Android mobiles have been the main factor for the huge growth in smartphone numbers.
According to CMR India here, in the country over 73.5 million handsets were sold in the first quarter 2013.
This represents a massive 11.2 per cent growth over last year. Of the total sales, smartphones accounted for 9.4 per cent which is a growth of over 167.3 per cent from Q1 2012.
It is evident that local manufacturers like Micromax and Karbonn are making the most of it, with Micromax announcing a tenfold increase in sales over last year.
Micromax’s market share rose from 1.7 per cent in 2012 to 17.1 per cent by Q1 2013.
Karbonn also saw a tenfold increase, with the likes of Nokia and BlackBerry suffering as a consequence.
With this data, it is clear that in India, budget devices sell, and sell well. Whereas Nokia was once a leader in this category, it has lost ground significantly over the last year thanks to affordable Android handsets.
That’s thanks to Android being the ecosystem of choice for over 90per cent of smartphones that were sold in India last year.
So, in a bid to boost its sales in the feature phone category, Nokia has launched the Asha 501.
It’s entirely redesigned and looks very different from other mobiles in the category. And when it comes down to the features, this mobile delivers in a big way: -
- FastLane: This feature is like Nokia’s take on BlinkFeed and BlackBerry’s Hub. It shows your recent activity, what messages you’ve sent, recent call lists and social networking information. Nifty is the word that comes to mind when describing this feature.
- Colour choices: The Asha 501 comes in a total of 6 colors, and makes it easily stand out from other devices.
- Browser: The Asha 501 comes with Nokia’s Xpress browser which does a great job of managing bandwidth through server side compression.
- Dual-SIM: These days, dual-SIM mobiles are the norm amongst budget devices and the Asha 501 offers dual-SIM that come with a dual standby mode.
Based on the feature set, the Asha 501 would be ideal for those who do not want to spend a lot of money on a mobile.
While there are a bevy of budget Android mobiles, most of them require a high learning curve and are quite cumbersome to use.
That’s if all you’re interested in doing is in checking your email and staying in touch with friends on social networking sites.
This is where the Asha 501 excels in. It is very convenient to use and doesn’t have 20 different notification settings.
You can set your SIM card, configure your social networking and email accounts and get going. The icing on the cake is the 40 free games from EA that come bundled with the Asha 501.
Nokia has tried to do something different with the Asha 501. The trend with budget devices is that they usually come with fairly basic hardware and all of them look very similar.
What Nokia has done is to create a new niche, one that is targeted toward users who just want a device that is convenient to use on a daily basis, is sturdy and well-built, and looks great.
With the Nokia Asha 501 currently [August 2013] priced at Rs 4,849 on MySmartPrice.com, it is a worthy alternative to budget Android devices like the Samsung Galaxy Star or Galaxy Y.