Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT) released a new, low-cost smartphone in an attempt to expand its offerings within emerging markets in light of flagging domestic sales.
The device, dubbed the Lumia 430 Dual SIM, is due out in April and will be a low-cost option available in a wide swath of countries, including several cornerstones of the BRICS. Target markets include a mixture of specific countries (India, Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Belarus) and several broad regions, including the Asia-Pacific and Middle-East. The regional references would suggest that Microsoft is building in flexibility in those areas to adjust to response to the product in individual markets.
The price tag of the 430 will vary, but will roughly equate to $70 U.S. dollars. It is the most affordable Lumia on the market, a phone produced by the Microsoft-owned Nokia Corporation (NYSE: NOK). The acquisition of the Finnish phone maker by Microsoft was intended to solidify the company's presence in the mobile market, but domestically has largely proven a failure. Market share for Windows Phones has stagnated in the 2-3% range and the company has made overtures at placing the Windows interface atop Android system phones in light of its anemic market share.
That makes the inexpensive 430 overture in emerging markets all the more critical.
Should MSFT fail in its effort to sell inexpensive phones in emerging markets, the fortunes could end quickly for its mobile future. It is likely that the Redmond, Washington firm will continue to look for a mobile presence for its Office products and operating system on hardware other than its own, in effect conceding outright to Android and iPhone smartphones.
While the direction of MSFT stock does not hang in the balance on the 430, Money Morning's Tech expert Michael Robinson will be keeping a close eye on this pivotal play in the smartphone wars.