Will REX rule?
South Korean giant Samsung has unveiled scaled-down Java versions of its flagship Galaxy S3 handset, pitching the new REX range at emerging markets in a move that could undermine Nokia.
Last month Nokia reported a small profit for Q4 as phone sales increased from 2.9 million in the previous quarter to 4.4 million, suggesting that the company’s high-margin Lumia range running Windows 8 might might be gaining traction.
But hidden in the figures was was the fact that a good chunk of earnings was down to Nokia’s cheaper Asha handsets where sales were up 50 per cent on Q3 at 9.3 million, with the device sold mainly into India and other parts of Asia which Samsung is now strongly targeting with its new range.
The Asha is one of Nokia’s most popular handsets and, while not as fully featured as its Windows Phones, are still a cut above most cheaper makes with their design including a web browser, email client and social media applications.
But analysts believe Samsung’s new REX could eclipse the Asha, putting a hole in Nokia’s finances at a time when it is most vulnerable.
Four REX devices are being introduced with screens between 2.8 and 3.5 inches and cameras up to 3.2 megapixels.
Nokia still has good ties with carriers in the so-called BRIC region (Brazil, Russia, India and China) which embraces more than 40 per cent of the world’s population and occupies over a quarter of the world’s land area.
But against that Samsung is porting across to REX its TouchWiz user interface from its Galaxy handsets, a feature that could prove the winning card.
The REX phones also boast dual-SIM slots allowing them to support both data and call tariffs, thus comfortably positioning the devices between being a feature phone and a fully-fledged smartphone.
According to Forbes, the emerging market division of Nokia accounts for a fifth of the company’s value with the Asha brand, released last year, intended to secure its position.
Though Samsung hasn’t yet confirmed the pricing of its REX handsets, estimates suggest a range at between £50 and £80. No launch date has yet been given.