Nokia Fights Back With Cheap Touchscreen Phones


Struggling mobile phone maker Nokia Oyj has unveiled its first full touchscreen phones aimed at the budget end of the market, as it looks to fill a gap in its product range and catch up with rivals, particularly in emerging markets.

Nokia has lost out badly to Apple Inc and Google Inc in the smartphone market and last quarter also lost its position as the world's largest volume cellphone maker to Samsung Electronics.

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While fighting back with a new range of smartphones that uses Microsoft software, the group is also eager to tap the booming market for basic phones with full touchscreens.

Analysts at Strategy Analytics estimate that 105 million such handsets were sold globally last year, with demand particularly strong in emerging markets.

"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," Ben Wood, head of research at CCS Insight, said.

Nokia said on Wednesday its Asha 305 model would go on sale this month for 63 euros ($79), excluding subsidies and taxes. The Asha 306 and Asha 311 models will go on sale next quarter for 68 euros and 92 euros respectively.

"In basic phones (Nokia's) second quarter might still be difficult, but I expect a better third quarter, said Nordea analyst Sami Sarkamies.

Previously Nokia has not had full touchscreen phones in non-smartphone segments. The new phones will be competing with cheaper Android phones from the likes of Huawei, ZTE and Samsung.

Shares in Nokia, which have lost over half of their value over the past year, were 4.7 percent higher at 2.24 euros by 0823 GMT.

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