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Microsoft plans to kill the Nokia Asha, Series 40, and other budget phones

Microsoft is going through a radical shake down. After announcing that it will eliminate 18,000 jobs and axe the Nokia X Android smartphone line for good, an internal memo leaked stating that the Nokia Asha Series 40 smartphones and other budget devices will also be cut or scaled back significantly.

Although the termination of the Android-based Nokia X line was somewhat expected, the dismantling of Nokia’s very profitable entry-level smartphone and budget phone businesses is definitely not. Budget devices were the very foundation of Nokia’s mobile device business and kept the company afloat during hard times. It appears that new owner Microsoft wants to scale back budget phone production in favor of more high-end Windows Phone devices.

First time phone users will have even less options to choose from and chances are, most of them will go straight to Android’s cheap low-end offerings.

An internal memo from Jo Harlow to employees obtained by BGR India states that Microsoft will scale back production of the Nokia Asha series and other Series 40 budget smartphones.

“To focus on the growing momentum behind Windows Phone, we plan to immediately begin ramping down developer engagement activities related to Nokia X, Asha and Series 40 apps and shift support to maintenance mode,” the email reads. “We are committed to supporting our existing Mobile Phones customers, and will ensure proper operation during the planned controlled shutdown of services over the next 18 months.”

The email continues, saying that it will focus on Windows Phones and that all “Mobile Phones-related services and enablers are planned to move into maintenance mode, effective immediately. This means there will be no new features or updates to services on any Mobile Phones platform as a result of these plans.”

Harlow says that Microsoft will also “consider strategic options for Xpress Browser to enable continuation of the service outside of Microsoft.” Even though it’s cutting back in a lot of areas, Microsoft says it’s “committed to supporting our existing customers, and will ensure proper operation during the controlled shutdown of services over the next 18 months.”

Regardless of its promises, Microsoft’s elimination of all entry-level Nokia phones will undoubtedly hit the budget market hard. First time phone users will have even less options to choose from and chances are, most of them will go straight to Android’s cheap low-end offerings. Unless Microsoft can drive down prices on its other Windows Phone handsets, the continued existence of Nokia’s mobile device legacy is looking very bleak.

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