The Empire Strikes Back (Nokia Asha Version)
Last year, Nokia acquired Smarterphone, a small Norwegian company that has an operating system designed for more basic cell phones. Back then, the press release of the acquisition included the following:
Smarterphone is based in Oslo, Norway and delivers an operating system for the feature phone segment of mobile handsets. The software makes it possible to deliver a user experience similar to smart phones on affordable hardware, and allows unique flexibility for tailoring handset software to different markets.
Nokia’s Asha range of phones have been hitherto powered by Nokia’s revamped S40 UI. Nokia’s Asha brand is now powered by a new software platform appropriately named Asha and different from S40. According to Nokia’s official statement, the new Asha “fully leverages Nokia’s investments in Smarterphone, which it acquired in 2012 and builds on the best aspects of Series 40 to create something fresh and innovative. The result is an evolutionary operating system that is fast, responsive and easy to use.”
The new interface is reminiscent of the user interface on the Nokia N9, using swipe events for navigation, among others. It features two home screens – Fastlane, which displays your information and notifications, and an app drawer. That is very much like what we saw on the Nokia N9. It is not clear yet whether or not Nokia has included multi-tasking in this new OS. Quite a number of fans will be disappointed if this feature isn’t present. The new Asha OS is being introduced on the new Nokia Asha 501.
What does this development indicate? Nokia isn’t giving up the low-end market without a fight, and it seems that Windows Phone is unable to address that market yet. My experience with the most basic WP Lumias running 256MB have been less than pleasant. Clearly, an OS targeted at low-end devices and that is fast, responsive and easy to use is required. To this end, the empire has struck back. The Nokia empire.
Thanks, EyeBeeKay, for the tip off.