Fighting cheap Androids. Seppo Aaltonen, Nokia phone Strategy Lead: ~9 million apps downloaded to S40 each day #MWC13

Nokia mobile phone division was the only part of Nokia that managed to stay more or less sustainably profitable through most of 2011-2012 transition. But without its own set of challenges.

For the last 2 years Q1 was particularly difficult quarter for Nokia’s low end handset division. In 2011 Nokia was late to react to regional feature phone makers with cheap dual-SIM phones. In early 2012 Android handsets got cheap and good enough to get a significant chunk of Nokia’s more expensive feature phone sales.

Both times Nokia’s mobile phone division rose up to the challenge and recovered. in 2011 with its own portfolio of dual-SIM handsets and introduction of Asha feature phones, in 2012 – by launching a very successful full-touch Asha line.

The full touch Asha, which Nokia now tries to position as smartphones, performed surprisingly well since its launch last year. Only in Q4 2012 they sold 9.3 million full-touch Asha handsets. And, according to Seppo Aaltonen, Nokia Mobile Phones Strategy Lead, in 25 markets Asha actually outsold cheap Android smartphones in the same price bracket. What’s more, Nokia sees an increasing uptake of Asha in advanced markets like Europe, and plans to expand its full touch feature phone efforts there.

Having in mind the terrible transitions between Q4 and Q1 in the last two years, we’ll have to wait until Nokia first quarter numbers come in, to be sure. But for now, it seems, Nokia Asha is keeping its own against the onslaught of cheap Androids, and is even gaining some ground in select places.

As for Nokia’s efforts to reposition full touch Asha as smartphone – for now it is a bit of a stretch. But the line between an advanced Nokia feature phone and a smartphone is blurring. Contrary to all other phone makers, Nokia is investing heavily in its mobile handset software ecosystem, and has some impressive numbers to prove it. A total of 3.4 billion apps have been downloaded to Nokia S40 phones, 1.7 billion of them in 2012. Today app downloads rate to Series 40 Nokia phones is almost at 9 million apps per day. Sure, most of them are Web or Java apps. But, so what? According to Seppo Aaltonen:

“… when you have a very good browser and apps, the consumer paradigm [changes], it starts to be smartphone behavior in data traffic and application traffic. And also from the developers [point of view], you see the number of downloads spiking as you introduce the touch displays and SDK”

Of course, there still are no native apps and multi-tasking on Nokia Asha. But we, as an industry, accepted Bada as a smartphone platform just because Samsung told us so. Is the full-touch Nokia Asha 309 end user experience so much different and worse than on Samsung Wave Y S5380?

Watch the full interview with Seppo Aaltonen, Nokia Mobile Phones Strategy Lead here:

Author: Stasys Bielinis

While I like to play with the latest gadgets, I am even more interested in broad technology trends. With mobile now taking over the world - following the latest technology news, looking for insights, sharing and discussing them with passionate audience - it's hard to imagine a better place for me to be. You can find me on Twitter as @UVStaska'

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