Microsoft to focus on Windows Phone, as Nokia Asha and Series 40 get axed

Earlier today, Microsoft revealed that it was bringing an end to its Nokia X range of Android phones, with plans to transition some of these devices to the Windows Phone platform. But the company is going much further than this, as part of a major restructuring of its devices portfolio, which will soon see the company focusing exclusively on Windows Phone in the mobile space. 

Microsoft executive (and former Nokia CEO) Stephen Elop said in an email to company employees today that its Smart Devices and Mobile Phones business units will be consolidated "into one phone business unit that is responsible for all of our phone efforts." This unit will be headed up by Jo Harlow who moved to Microsoft as part of its acquisition of Nokia's devices business earlier this year. 


Microsoft will now consolidate all of its mobile efforts around Windows Phone

In a separate internal email, Harlow revealed that the company will now begin the process of phasing out not just Nokia X, but also its Asha and Series 40 feature-phones. "With the clear focus on Windows Phones," she wrote, "all Mobile Phones-related services and enablers are planned to move into maintenance mode, effective immediately. This means there will be no new features or updates to services on any Mobile Phones platform as a result of these plans." 

This does not, of course, mean that existing devices will suddenly stop working, but the process of winding down support for these handsets will begin today. Harlow said that Microsoft is "committed to supporting our existing customers, and will ensure proper operation during the controlled shutdown of services over the next 18 months. A detailed plan and timeline for each service will be communicated over the coming weeks."

Microsoft - and before that, Nokia - have expended considerable time and resources into trying to generate developer support for the Nokia X platform in particular, including many dev-focused events around the world in recent weeks. What do these changes mean for developers? "To focus on the growing momentum behind Windows Phone," Harlow said, "we plan to immediately begin ramping down developer engagement activities related to Nokia X, Asha and Series 40 apps and shift support to maintenance mode." 

Hardware is not the only casualty under Microsoft's new plans. As The Verge reports, Nokia's popular MixRadio music streaming service (formerly Nokia Music) looks set to be divested from Microsoft's software portfolio. The company is still considering its options with no decisions yet finalised about its future, but says it has received "strong interest" from third parties with regards to a sell-off. Curiously, in a now-deleted tweet, the @MixRadio Twitter account implied that this wasn't the case. 

Nokia Xpress Browser is also facing the same fate: "We plan to consider strategic options for Xpress Browser to enable continuation of the service outside of Microsoft," Harlow said. 

With its low-cost feature phones now effectively dead-ended, Microsoft will be under increasing pressure to bring its Windows Phones down to ultra-low price points. The cheapest new Windows Phone handsets still cost around $100, while Android smartphones can be purchased for half that amount. 

Source: The Verge

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I think by the end of this year you are going to see ultra cheap WP devices to replace the dumb phone line, probably around the $40-$60 mark. just like how there are going to be ultra cheap Windows tablets and ultrabooks coming.

I don't agree with MS here, it's like they are opening a market for the original Nokia to step into next year.

As nice as WindowsPhone is, it will always have MS behind it and they just think of themselves as the 1990's powerhouse that they once were - even tho they now have the competition that leaves their inability to not ruin every market they start to develop in order to try and gain the upper hand.

MS will lose out on this but hopefully we see a strong original Nokia appear again in the future.

I think Microsoft is cutting is nose off despite its face, Asha is a popular platform and should be continued in its current form. Mix Music and Xpress browser should be merged into Xbox Music and Internet Explorer to make those two platforms even better, everyone knows that Xbox Music is a poor platform so MS should be doing more to improve it.

The market is going to smart phones more and more, and with the lower end Windows Phones heading lower, I expect to see a Lumia 530 for $50 w/o a contract, then keeping feature phones like the Asha around starts to make less and less sense.

This however says nothing about the true "dumb" phones that people think about, the basic ones that are just for calling and some sms and give you a week or more of battery life. Those aren't S40 or "feature" phones so those should still be around for some time until the smartphone market can have phones last more than a day battery wise.

im happy they are going to focus on windows phone only

im sad they are going to sell mixradio don't sell it its better than xbox music for international users like me if you are going to sell mixradio offer your xbox music service to international users

This is only good news!
Spreading efforts is nothing good for Windows Phone. Microsoft is always at its best when they eat their own dog food.

I have an Asha 301 - and speaking as an owner... Microsoft is making the right call here. Yes, it is dirt cheap but a low-cost WP8 device would be superior in every way. WP8 itself runs beautifully on low-end hardware.

Microsoft needs to continue to focus on the low-end but with WP8 or even a specially marketed WP8-3rdWorldEdition. I like my Asha but the user-experience, phone quality, speed, apps, are all horrible. Great battery life though.

"The cheapest new Windows Phone handsets still cost around $100, while Android smartphones can be purchased for half that amount. "

I dread to think what a $50 Android phone will look like.. probably running Android Lag, less than 4GB storage and less then 512MB RAM, horrific screens with low res and what not..

Typical of recent developments here is that there seems to be a shift to being pro android and having to pitch it just about anywhere..

I also think it's a dumb move to kill off the feature phones. Nokia X was dead on arrival but feature phones, especially in certain markets, were and will be huge. They should've kept the Asha brand and kill the rest. Like others said these are devices that can be used as emergency / backup devices that can last way longer than any smart phone can even with battery packs and what not. Not agreeing with them killing of Asha - everything else - OK. MixRadio should've been integrated into Xbox Music. Just my $0.02...

great move by Microsoft CEO, it will definitely make WP more popular and the best Mobile OS .But I'll really miss my #Asha300 phone. Ty Nokia for such products. Now NOkia+Microsoft gonna Rock the World :) Cheers :D :D :D

zuluX9 said,
great move by Microsoft CEO, it will definitely make WP more popular and the best Mobile OS

Mind to elaborate how? I might see this working for smartphone lines but feature phones?

zuluX9 said,
great move by Microsoft CEO, it will definitely make WP more popular

Why? People are not necessarily going to go from their Nokia feature phone to a WP.

Cosmocronos said,
I might see this working for smartphone lines but feature phones?

What is actually the difference between a feature phone and a entry smartphone nowadays?

MFH said,

What is actually the difference between a feature phone and a entry smartphone nowadays?

The ability to add apps mostly

Askew_ said,

The ability to add apps mostly

Well that's something you can easily offer with a smartphone OS - (aka. no need for MS to support a dedicated product line)

Cosmocronos said,
Prices? Asha devices are available in Third World Countries for $15/20. No need for data plans.

That cheap? Then why does the Asha 230 already cost 43€ in Europe?
And technically a data plan is no requirement for a smartphone…

MFH said,

That cheap? Then why does the Asha 230 already cost 43€ in Europe?
And technically a data plan is no requirement for a smartphone…

Because we can afford. They need to get the profit from somewhere. Prices are very often based on an income index, to maximize profit.

MFH said,

And technically a data plan is no requirement for a smartphone…

Technicality doesn't mean much to carriers in the US with the big 4, If you have a smartphone, you are usually required to have a data plan.

Askew_ said,

Technicality doesn't mean much to carriers in the US with the big 4,

I heard there is a world outside the US…
I also heard that outside the US the carriers are not in the same position as they are in the US…

MFH said,

I heard there is a world outside the US…
I also heard that outside the US the carriers are not in the same position as they are in the US…

No s***, I wasn't saying that everyone is by US standards, I was making a comment on how the US carriers work, hence me stating "carriers in the US".

zuluX9 said,
great move by Microsoft CEO, it will definitely make WP more popular and the best Mobile OS .But I'll really miss my #Asha300 phone. Ty Nokia for such products. Now NOkia+Microsoft gonna Rock the World :) Cheers :D :D :D

How will this make Windows Phone more popular? Are you saying because I can't get a NOKIA Asha phone I will get a (NOKIA) Windows Phone instead? I don't see how that makes sense.

Its just as probable that people will get an Android phone instead of the Asha phone they wanted, this will give NOKIA even less marketshare.

The reality is that people are not buying Windows Phone in any great volumes anywhere and I don't believe its a 'Marketing problem' People just don't like Windows phone much.

No, that would be terrible. Dumb phones like those are incredibly popular and Nokia are the go to brand.

Traveling, emergency, long battery life phones that survive for years and can take a good battering. Smartphone does not compete.

Looking at the lower budget ones, it seems they are S30 not S40 so perhaps they are safe. The S40 ones have browser, internet apps so are screwed as they compete with Windows Phone which makes sense. Fingers crossed the dumb phones survive as they don't go beyond bluetooth.

Should have left them with the staff they let go and asked them to change the name and use it.

Or atleast should have kept one of them for some more time.

I doubt that Microsoft ever really wanted to buy Asha or Nokia's feature phones, but Nokia made them by ALL of their phone business... so this is not expected.

I'm glad they're axing Nokia X Android phones... but I wouldn't mind if they kept the "X" phone brand. It kind of fits nicely with Microsoft's history with the letter "X".