With budget-friendly Asha 210, Nokia takes aim at emerging markets

The Asha 210 is a smart-looking, social-networking-centric smart phone. What it's not is high-powered. 

The Nokia Asha 210.

Nokia today took the wraps off the Asha 210, a colorful smart phone (see photo above for proof) with a QWERTY keyboard, and a dedicated WhatsApp button, which allows users to easily send and receive messages across an array of platforms. The Asha 210 is relatively low-powered – witness the 2-megapixel camera and 2.4-inch QVGA display – but Nokia is betting the social networking capability more than makes up for the lack of clout. 

The Asha 210, Nokia exec Timo Toikkanenhas said in a statement, has "been designed to allow people to easily update their social networks, stay in touch with friends and share user created content." Left unsaid, of course, is the target audience for the Asha 210. Because with an estimated retail price of 72 bucks, the Asha 210 will not be going up against the much more expensive Apple iPhone 5 or Samsung Galaxy S4

Instead, the target here is consumers in emerging markets such as India or Brazil, who may be looking for a capable and smart-looking smart phone, but are unwilling to fork over the equivalent of $200 (plus a two-year contract) for the privilege. As David Meyer of GigaOM notes today, this is an area in which Nokia, with its Series 40 phones, has historically acquitted itself very nicely.  

Moreover, he writes, the Asha 210 "will be going up against very low-end Android phones, which offer a much wider range of apps but not necessarily better performance (and seriously, battery life is a major issue in many of these markets), and the soon-to-be-released Firefox OS phones, which are HTML5-only and as such an unknown quantity at this point. Given its social chops, the 210 will be a fairly impressive contender for many users." 

The Asha 210, which is available in yellow, cyan, black, magenta, and white, is expected to hit shelves sometime in the second quarter of 2013.  

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