Nokia updates Asha operating system, releases $99 Asha 501 phone

Nokia's (NYSE:NOK) Lumia Windows Phone business often gets most of the attention when it comes to discussing the company's strategy, but the Finnish handset maker recently shifted the focus back to its low-cost Asha phones. 

The company unveiled an updated version of its Asha platform, promising developers an open, standards-based environment for creating applications targeting consumers in emerging markets. Asha touts a smartphone-caliber user experience optimized for limited-resource hardware. 

In conjunction with the software overhaul, Nokia announced the new Asha 501 smartphone, which is expected to begin shipping next month, priced below $100 and will be available across roughly 60 operators in more than 90 international markets. The device includes two main screens, Home and Fastlane: The former offers a conventional, icon-based view for launching individual apps or accessing specific features, while the latter presents recently accessed contacts, social networks and apps, all unique to each user. 

The Asha 501 also preloads the Nokia Xpress Browser, which compresses Internet data by up to 90 percent. 

Nokia said it expects to sell 100 million new-generation Asha phones over the coming years, and some analyst have said Nokia should focus on the low end of the marker rather than on the high end with its Lumia phones running Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone platform.

For more:
- see this FierceMobileContent article
- see this release

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