Is it safe to say that Nokia now has two Smartphone platforms?

Nokia Asha 501

Nokia boss Stephen Elop said once upon a time that Nokia’s strategy for smartphones is Windows phone and Windows phone alone. And that Ashas are Nokia’s feature phone strategy for the entry level to give them a smartphone-like experience. That passed. Several Asha phones down the line, Nokia started calling Series 40 devices smartphones.

There was a debate on tech media as to whether Series 40 based Asha phones really are smartphones. Nokia would quote the fact that when the first iPhone came about, it couldn’t handle multi-tasking, and yet the world was all ecstatic that finally we had a smartphone. Fast forward to 2012, this debate has never been resolved. And we will never agree whether Ashas are smartphones or not.

It depends on which side of the fence you are looking at this on.

Enter May 9

May 9th ushers in a new baby, the Nokia 501 and the new platform from Nokia called The Asha Platform. Nokia says that applications on the Asha platform are not downward compatible to Series 40 Asha, neither are Series 40 Apps upward compatible toNokia Asha 501 Asha Platform, story for another day. Now let me give you a short story of how Asha platform came to be. Long time ago, before you were born, there was the Nokia N9, one device that was loved by many, except by those up the hierarchy at Nokia. And so the baby was that beautiful one that will be the trophy baby for up there on the shelf.

Nokia N9 came and went, with Meego, to Samsung – yet another story for another day. Up the ladders of the smartphone segment, Nokia stuck with Windows phone, they still wish to let us believe the same is the case. Then the Asha platform happened. Asha platform is just like what Samsung did to Tizen. Tizen came from Meego, the cornerstone that was rejected by Nokia builders, blended with Samsung’s Bada to create something that will see the light of day in third quarter.

This was not about Tizen, but The Asha platform. Asha platform on the other hand, came from Smarterphone, an OS that was acquired by Nokia for some 3.6 million euros in January 2010 and kept under wraps. The Asha platform has Series 40 innards blended with Smarterphone and the UI from the Nokia N9’s Meego OS. Nokia acquired Smarterphone to enable them develop an OS for the entry level with greater abilities while at it. Basically to deliver the same feel of a smartphone to the entry level user.

Here I will add an irrelevant point, that Nokia stopped developing devices with no colour screen.

Nokia in it’s marketing material of the Asha 501 and the Asha platform, have completely dropped the feature phone phrase, and is instead calling Asha 501 a smartphone, actually calling it a series of  “Our new Asha Smartphones“. Naturally, you wouldn’t expect Nokia to not develop the new platform in the future to add more capabilities, Nokia announced the first Ashas on October 2011, and if you compare that with the full touch Asha 311 which is the most advanced, you can tell there is a difference.

Questions I’d love to ask:

  1. Does Nokia intend to go from down up with the Asha platform?
  2. Could we see a higher end device from Asha platform, like way high up?
  3. Could this really be the fall-back option, just incase er you know..?
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Martin is the Managing Editor at Techweez, passionate about personal tech and telling stories of consumer experiences. Talk to me: [email protected]


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