Nokia Targets Low-End Market With Cheaper OS

Nokia is reportedly developing a new platform for its low-cost handsets, as the company looks for ways to target low-end emerging markets and stay relevant.

The Finnish phone maker’s new operating system, currently code-named Meltemi, is Linux-based. Nokia’s executive vice president Mary McDowell is leading the project, which is expected to propel the success of feature phones overseas, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Nokia’s recent focus has been on its deal with Microsoft to make the Windows Phone OS its platform of choice on its future smartphones. Both companies hope the relationship will be lucrative, helping Microsoft establish a presence in the smartphone market and allowing Nokia to reclaim its formerly strong position.

Microsoft’s platform is more suited for mid and high-end devices, but the performance of Nokia’s low-end mobile phone business has been the cornerstone of its success. Feature phones accounted for nearly 50 per cent Nokia’s sales in the second quarter, a number that likely needs to stay consistent for the company to be successful in other areas of the market.

Capturing the low-end market is how Nokia built its business. The company became the number-one smartphone vendor in the world selling feature phones to large sectors of the market who couldn’t afford high-end devices. Now, with markets in China and India emerging quickly, Nokia is likely looking to shore up this arm of its business and create a safety net for itself if its partnership with Microsoft doesn’t work out.

Recent moves by the competition may have also spurred Nokia’s newest venture into its own software for feature phones. For example, Samsung recently unveiled several new devices in its Galaxy line that run its Bada software and Google has a strong presence in the Chinese market with low-cost Android OS devices.

Samsung also announced a partnership with Intel that merges LiMo and Nokia’s abandoned MeeGo OS into an upcoming platform called Tizen. The new OS will represent even more competition for Nokia if Samsung and Intel can get it off the ground.

Nokia’s partnership with Microsoft will likely garner attention in the high-end market, but if the Finnish-phone maker can bring low-cost devices that are enabled with touch technology and apps to emerging markets, the company could once again become a superpower in the mobile market at both ends of the spectrum.

This post originally appeared at Mobiledia.

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