While the focus in the devices industry is generally on the smartphone sector, Tero Lehtonen, head of mobile phones portfolio planning for Microsoft Devices Group, is confident that the feature phone market – although shrinking – still holds plenty of opportunities.
“It’s still a big market,” said Lehtonen, “and from a profitability point of view it’s getting better and better as many players – prematurely in our view – have exited the market.”
Lehtonen said the Asha line – Nokia’s range of low-priced touchscreen devices – would continue to be developed and price points pushed further downwards.
There has been some concern that the more capable Asha devices would compete with the Nokia X line, powered by an Android variant, which would in-turn step on the toes of the entry-level Windows Phone-powered Lumia devices.
According to the former Nokia man, now working for Microsoft following its purchase of the Finnish firm’s device business, around half of X-series consumers are new since they are Android users lured away from other manufacturers.
The other X-series customers come from feature phone upgrades (primarily Nokia-branded devices), preventing these users churning to another manufacturer.