The messaging feature, entitled "Whatsapp," combines messaging from a number of platforms into a free text service, and is accessed by an exclusive button on the Nokia Asha phone.
The Nokia Asha line is geared at affordability and attracting new smartphone users. This leaves a lot of breathing room that wouldn't be found for larger phone companies. Because of this, Nokia is experimenting with integrating an exclusive button for the messaging feature Whatsapp directly onto the phone. While this will boost popularity for the service among Nokia users, critics are skeptical that the effects will leak over into other mobile markets. Normally, Whatsapp costs an annual fee to use, but owners of the Nokia Asha will not have to pay.
The new Asha phone with Whatsapp integration will not be touchscreen-enabled, and will cost approximately $72 retail. As Nokia struggles in the market, different regions are targeted to help the company find its niche. Because navigation of the phone will be performed exclusively though buttons, Whatsapp will likely be the exclusive messaging service most users will use for the sake of convenience. The phone has a full QWERTY keyboard and a 2.4in display. Gartner research director Roberta Coza states that "having a dedicated hard key is a nice touch...but I don't think it will make a big difference for either of the firms." She notes that the competition for this market is already relatively tough, explaining that "there are already lots of affordable low-end full-screen touch-enabled Android phones out there." So while this move may provide some popularity for Whatsapp for the time being, it is likely that it won't move either Nokia or Whatsapp too far ahead in the market.
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