Things may not be going too well for Nokia so far. With news of the existing Lumia range of smartphones not supporting the Windows 8, the Lumia range has suffered a slight set back. The Lumia smartphone line-up was not as big a hit as they expected. Nokia managed to sell just 7 million Lumia devices till date out of which, 4 million were sold in the last quarter.
Its biggest hit was the Lumia 900 which managed to sell just 300,000 units in the US due to presence of LTE at very cheap price of $49 on a 2-year contract with AT&T. Last week, Nokia released the cheapest Windows Phone in the form of Lumia 510 but despite the low price tag and more than decent performance and attractive looks, it did not manage to find any form of attraction from consumers even in its biggest market; India.
With the launch of Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8, and the subsequent launch of Lumia 920 and Lumia 820 this and the next financial quarter remains as the last stand for Nokia to either get resurrected or move into oblivion in the mobile phone market space. According to the latest IDC report on mobile phone sales in Q3 of 2012, Nokia is not even in the Top 5 players in terms of smartphone sales and market share. Although, Nokia is doing pretty well in the entry-level market with their Asha OS laden phones but the problem is, Nokia cannot reap much profit per device in that segment. Let us have a look at its Asha series and if it can help Nokia in any way.
Current Situation of Low End Phone Market
After the local Indian brands such as Micromax, Lava and Karbonn invaded the low end mobile phone market with dual SIM capable phones. Global players such as Nokia were forced to introduce their version of dual SIM devices in the low end segment. Even after Nokia got back its market share, local brands went one step ahead and went into a blitzkrieg of sorts with touchscreen devices in the low end segment.
To answer that, Nokia launched the Asha series of mobile phones with both touchscreen and non-touchscreen based displays. The Nokia Asha OS is nothing but a revamped Series 40 OS with finger sized icons, sweep able screens and a dedicated notifications bar. This UI is inspired a lot by the Symbian Anna OS, Android and MeeGo from its other smartphones such as Nokia PureView 808 and Nokia N9.
The Nokia’s best seller Asha OS based phone Asha 305, along with others such as, Asha 306, Asha 309 and Asha 311 are all under the INR 6,000 range. Nokia Asha 305 price for example is only Rs 4295. The low price makes these phones hugely popular and they sell like hot cakes in the market right now.
Nokia managed to grab a huge market share once again in the low end mobile phone market. But now, Micromax and Karbonn have come up with cheaper Android smartphones and consumers are adopting them without any hitch, especially the youth.
Is Asha OS Too Weak To Compete With Android?
Although heavily inspired by multiple operating systems, Asha OS still can’t compete with a proper smartphone operating system.
Most of the youth want to be connected with their friends through social networking and chatting applications such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Nimbuzz and eBuddy. Nokia’s new Asha OS phones come pre-installed with applications such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter as well as 40 games from Electronic Arts such as Need for Speed and Tetris. The Asha OS has ability to install Java applications but these applications can’t run seamlessly in the background as they do on a platform like Android.
Even application to application switching is a pain in the Series 40 based operating system and you don’t have many choices to make when you want to get things done. One other important aspect is the web browsing. There is a rapid growth in Internet connected consumers in India are using their mobile phones to browse the web due to lack of proper broadband penetration. It is a known fact that in the price range below INR 6,000, Android can offer a lot that Nokia Asha OS in terms of functionality, features and possibilities.
Was Nokia Wrong In Not Partnering With Google?
Prior to entering the partnership with Microsoft for their smartphone range, Nokia was in talks with almost every other platform out there such as Blackberry and Android but due to unexplained need to “be exclusive”, they went ahead with Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform.
It would have been a good decision by not putting all the eggs in the same basket and having an optional partnership with Google for using Android as their de-facto operating system for low-range devices. Google, with its Android, does not put any bar on device’s configuration with any kind of ‘Minimum Hardware Requirements’ as opposed to Microsoft.
With other manufacturers consistently hitting lower and lower price points and better performance with their entry-level Android smartphones, it is hard for Nokia’s Asha OS to survive as consumers are increasingly attracted to the possibilities with true smartphone operating system.
Nokia Asha OS may be Nokia’s current show stopper when it comes to the lower to mid-range phones, however with cheaper Android devices in the market with much more capability, Nokia’s clock maybe ticking down for its lower segment phones.
Asha OS, while is indeed a fairly capable OS will need much more improvements to compete against Android’s massive Market place, it’s cheaper prices and better specifications.
It seems difficult to perceive Nokia Asha being relevant in the years to come.