Nokia has bought Smarterphone AS, a Norwegian startup that builds mobile operating system for feature phones. However, Smarterphone claims its mobile OS is refined to enable users have a smartphone-like experience on cheap hardware and that could be the attraction for Nokia. The news of the deal, which was completed in November, 2011 came from Ferd capital an investment company that claims it has spent 6.5 million Euros on Smarterphone since 2007.
Feature phones are the top selling internet enabled phones in Nigeria and most of the emerging market because of their cheaper prices. However, recently Android has started eating into feature phone territory. So, these buy could enable Nokia offer more compelling feature phones that can favorably compete with cheap Android phones, helping them maintain their stronghold in emerging market.
It could even enable them build feature phones at price points never seen before. Imagine a N4,000 Nokia feature phone with internet and ability to run apps. That could be possible with this deal.
However, no one is sure what Nokia’s intentions for Smarterphone are. Are they going to keep it as a separate platform, or are they going to incorporate ideas from it on their Series 40 platform, or are they just interested in the talent and expertise in Smarterphone AS? So far Nokia has not made any comment.