Last week, at Mobile World Congress, Nokia announced the latest and cheapest addition to its range of Windows Phones, the Lumia 610. Aggressively priced at €189 EUR ($250 USD / £158 GBP), the handset is the first of a new wave of handsets from numerous manufacturers running Windows Phone ‘Tango’, a version of the mobile operating system optimised for low-end devices with entry-level spec sheets.
But even before that device goes on sale, the company is talking about the need to make its Windows Phone handsets even cheaper, if it is to successfully take on Android. Nokia executive vice president Niklas Savander told Pocket-lint that the company has “a lot riding on the fact that we need to get a lower price point”.
The problem facing Nokia is that Google’s Android OS is so successful across a vast range of price points, from flagship devices like the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, all the way down to ultra-low-cost handsets that have opened up smartphone ownership to huge numbers of new owners. Savander explained: “Android is in many markets at the 100 euro price already, so that would suggest that if we are at 189 euro with the Lumia 610, we still have work to do when it comes to creating a lower-end first time user smartphone.”
Of course, it’s not all about Android – the company’s own Symbian platform (now known as Nokia Belle) is coming to the end of its life too. Nokia Belle currently occupies the middle ground between the company’s Series 40 feature phones and the pricier Windows Phones, and Nokia has made no secret of its wish to remove Belle from the equation entirely.
Savander added: “Symbian is doing a very good job in capturing that first time smartphone user, but the platform is of course aging, and the functionality isn’t evolving as rapidly as it should, and so we of course need to continue to push the price of handsets down when it comes to the low-end.”
But he was insistent that a low-end Windows Phone doesn’t have to mean a poor quality experience: “You have to be very much into multiple applications and everything open at the same time before you can see the engineering cuts that Microsoft has made [with Windows Phone Tango] to run it in lower memory for example”, a reference to the Lumia 610’s relatively modest 256MB of RAM, which is expected to be typical of most Tango handsets.
Image via Nokia