Nokia aims to regain emerging markets with new Asha touchscreen phones

Nokia added three touchscreen handsets to its Asha product line in a move to regain its position in emerging markets. The eagerly awaited phones were greeted with approval by investors, pushing Nokia's shares up 3.4 per cent Wednesday to €2.21.

The new handsets will start to become available this month, and will support a newly developed and redesigned touchscreen interface, according to Nokia. The new devices will complement the company's existing Series 40 product portfolio, but with touchscreen capabilities helping them resemble true smartphones.

Juha-Pekka Sipponen, vice president and head of portfolio and product management at Nokia, told Bloomberg that the Asha 305 will ship this month priced at €63, and will be the company's cheapest full-length touchscreen phone. The Asha 306 model, priced at €68, and the Asha 311 costing €92, both featuring a faster touchscreen and a 1 GHz processor, will be added in July.

The new Asha touchscreens will give customers a better experience with existing services such as map databases and mobile apps, Sipponen said. The dual-SIM Asha 305 and single-SIM Asha 306 will use 3-inch resistive touchscreens, while the dual-SIM Asha 311 will have a capacitive touchscreen, the faster type used on most smartphones.

Commenting on the announcement, Ben Wood, head of research at CCS Insight, told Reuters: "Nokia urgently needed these products for emerging markets where rival Samsung has had full-touch, low-cost devices like the Star since June 2009. Now Nokia needs to quickly make up lost ground with these new products."

Sami Sarkamies, a Helsinki-based analyst at Nordea Bank, said: "The main reason Nokia has been struggling in feature phones lately is that it lacked touch products", adding, "This announcement won't help much in the second quarter but I think there will be a notable impact in the third quarter."

Nokia said it planned to include 40 free games from Electronic Arts with the new phones, as well as Rovio Entertainment's Angry Birds on the higher-priced Asha 311.

For more:
- see this release
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this Reuters article
- see this Dow Jones Newswires article

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