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Microsoft, Looking To Grow In Emerging Markets, Unveils $29 Nokia Internet Phone

Microsoft, Looking To Grow In Emerging Markets, Unveils $29 Nokia Internet Phone
[Photo: courtesy of Microsoft]

When Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella took the reins last February, he promised to give the tech giant in midlife crisis a new identity as a “mobile-first, cloud-first” industry leader.

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As his one-year anniversary as CEO approaches, the pressure is on for Nadella to succeed. Microsoft’s near-monopoly on connected devices has plummeted from over 90% market share in 2009 to around 20% today, as investor Benedict Evans has noted, and it will take significant new product launches to reverse that trend.

The Nokia 215, unveiled today at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and set to retail in select emerging markets for $29, represents an important first step toward making “mobile-first” a reality. But tellingly, it also highlights Microsoft’s weak positioning in consumer software: Facebook and Facebook Messenger come pre-installed on the 2G handset, a major selling point, while Microsoft’s MSN Weather and Bing Search get second billing.

Microsoft introduced two new Lumia phones in September, its first joint effort with Nokia’s devices division since it acquired the troubled unit for $7.2 billion in 2013. At the time, Microsoft phone marketing head Ifi Majid told Fast Company that Lumia’s overarching goals were to support the Windows platform by increasing usage of Office, OneDrive, and Skype.

With the Nokia 215, in contrast, Microsoft is emphasizing features like 29 days of standby battery life and a built-in flashlight with the goal of appealing to prospective customers in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

Windows Phone, Microsoft’s higher-tier offering, continues to struggle in the U.S. and abroad. In China, its market share is just 0.4%.

[via: The Verge]

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