Nokia Unveils its Cheapest Phones Ever

by Matt Klassen on August 30, 2011

It’s sometimes difficult to remember what our lives were like before cellphones. Heck, how many of us can remember what life was like before the recent advent of smartphones? But the truth is, there are billions of people on this planet that are just now getting their first access to the most rudimentary cell networks, meaning that they’ll be looking for rudimentary phones, and Nokia is planning to deliver.

Faced with continual failure in the high end smartphone market, I truly wondered how long it would take Nokia to reconnect with its roots and once again focus on selling cheap phones in emerging markets. To wit, in a race to the bottom of the mobile market Nokia has announced that it will be selling its cheapest feature phones ever, designed specifically for those in the developing world.

That’s not to say that Nokia has scrapped any of its floundering smartphone projects, only that it is hoping to attract the billions of customers for whom the newest 4G LTE super phones are still objects of science fiction.

As Nokia’s official blog states, “In large parts of Africa and Asia, in particular, many face the reality of expensive data rates, the uncertainty of being able to connect to a reliable power source and low incomes. For the ‘next billion’ mobile users, a reliable, inexpensive, regular phone is a lot more relevant. That’s the reason we’re launching the Nokia 101 and Nokia 100 today.”

When Nokia says that it will be selling its cheapest feature phone ever, it doesn’t joke around, as the advertised prices for the Nokia 100 and the dual-SIM Nokia 101 are both under $30 USD, making them both the perfect options for those living off lower incomes in the 2/3s world.

But in an effort to attract this new burgeoning market, one that likely includes some of the poorest and most remote communities in the world, price isn’t the only key selling point of these feature phones. Recognizing the fact that many of Nokia’s new key demographic may be illiterate, the Finnish company produced an icon based user interface, where the ability to recognize pictures is all that is needed.

Further, responding to the challenge of communities that have unreliable and intermittent power sources, Nokia boasts the both phones will have a standby battery life of almost a month (25 days), allowing users significant windows of usability should no power be available.

While clearly designed to be affordable, Nokia is quick to demonstrate their overall versatility as well, as both phones offer integrated FM radio (with the 101 featuring a MP3 player as well), an integrated flashlight (perfect for places where again power is intermittent), and support for memory cards.

The truth is, there’s an huge untapped global market that Nokia will be able to reach with these phones, a market that knows nothing of Apple, nothing of Android, and nothing of just how poorly Nokia stacks up against either of these aforementioned competitors.

So don’t be surprised if Nokia is once again at the top of the market in terms of handsets sold, but also don’t be surprised when Nokia announces its losing money on these phones due to their razor thin profits margins, as one has to wonder just how much money Nokia can make off phones sold for under $30.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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