Nokia had this grand goal of connecting the next 1 billion, and that goal was being executed by shipping basic feature phones to low budget smartphones by the droves mostly in emerging economies. Then came along Microsoft and acquired Nokia’s mobile phone division. And now, shortly after the acquisition, Microsoft says it is discontinuing Nokia’s feature phone and budget smartphone lines. Yes; the basic Nokias that everyone in the rural areas and artisans on the street use, the Ashas, and the new Nokia X range are being discontinued.
A few quotes from Microsoft:
“We will be particularly focused on making the market for Windows Phone. In the near term, we plan to drive Windows Phone volume by targeting the more affordable smartphone segments, which are the fastest-growing segments of the market, with Lumia.”
“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. We are committed to supporting our existing Mobile Phones customers, and will ensure proper operation during the planned controlled shutdown of services over the next 18 months”
Microsoft says it is immediately moving all mobile phones-related services being immediately moved into “maintenance mode”, and shutting them down completely over an 18 months period. If what happened with Symbian is any indication, the shut down will come faster. During the maintenance period, there will be no new features or updates to services on any mobile phones platform. From now on, its all about Windows Phone alone.
Do you get how huge this is? My first thoughts:
- Microsoft killing off Nokia’s feature phones looks like a suicide mission. There is no way Windows Phone is capable of filling the resulting gap at the bottom of the pyramid now or in the immediate future. A N3,500 Windows Phone smartphone, anyone? Even Android is yet to achieve that. Basically, Microsoft has given emerging markets the middle finger.
- I can understand Microsoft shutting down Asha and Nokia X. I expected them to do it eventually. But I think it is foolhardy to do it so soon. But what do I know?
- In my opinion, Microsoft is about to throw away whatever hold Nokia had in emerging markets.
- This is an opportunity for other manufacturers e.g. TECNO to take advantage of the vacuum at the bottom of the pyramid to sell cheap feature phones.
How Microsoft hopes to convert Nokia’s feature phone, Asha and Nokia X markets to Windows Phone in such a short time is beyond my comprehension. This is a disaster in the making. Microsoft is disconnecting everyone that Nokia wanted to connect. Disappointing. Very.
It is almost as if Microsoft’s actions are yelling at us, “Hey! We are very unpredictable and undependable. Just stick with Android or iOS.”