Microsoft announced a new entry-level mobile phone, which will reach the market as Nokia 130, against a backdrop of speculation as to the future of the non-smartphone business it gained through its acquisition of Nokia Devices & Services.
The company billed the €19 device as “the most affordable mobile phone with video and music player”. In both cases, the ability to add content via the microSD expansion slot was highlighted, no doubt due to the lack of high-speed data support (it is dual-band GSM only, with no WiFi).
Citing figures from Strategy Analytics, Microsoft said that 300 million devices from the “below $35” category are sold every year.
Obviously, the Nokia 130 specification reflects the fact that it has been built to a price: it has a 1.8-inch colour screen, FM radio and Bluetooth, but no camera. A dual-SIM version is also promised.
But the modest specification also brings benefits: it supports up to 46 hours of continuous music playback on a single charge, or delivering up to 36 days standby in single-SIM form.
Nokia 130 will be available in “select” markets, including China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines and Vietnam.
Following last month’s announcement that Microsoft is set to cut 18,000 jobs, with the axe falling hardest in the former Nokia business, it had been suggested that Microsoft would exit the non-smartphone business entirely.
It has already confirmed it will not offer any more devices in the Nokia X series, which were powered by an Android variant integrated with Microsoft’s products and services, and the future of the Asha device line also looks uncertain much beyond the current portfolio.
Of course, Nokia 130 may simply be a device that was already nearly ready for release, and was therefore able to escape the company’s strategic review, or may indicate that Microsoft still sees the opportunity for an “on-ramp” into the Microsoft device family.
But without an Asha device above it, there would be a big jump from Nokia 130 to the lowest-cost Lumia device, rather than a smooth path from basic device through more advanced feature phone to smartphone.
In a statement, Jo Harlow, corporate VP for phones at Microsoft, said: “With handsets like the Nokia 130, we see tremendous potential to deliver the experience of a ‘mobile-first’ world to people seeking their first device, and we continue to invest in ultra-affordable devices that will introduce people to a ‘cloud-first’ world through Microsoft services such as Bing, Outlook.com and OneDrive.”