Microsoft Corp has launched low-end smartphones powered by Windows 8.1 in Thailand for the first time to compete with Chinese players gaining significant market share.
Chinese mobiles and mobile operators’ house brands have been gaining in popularity due to their prices, especially for users looking to migrate to third-generation (3G) smartphones from second-generation technology, said Samarn Takort, head of technical sales at Microsoft Devices Thailand.
He said the latest Nokia Lumia was the company’s first affordable model, priced below 3,000 baht.
“We believe 9 million mobiles in the country still use wireless 2G,” he said.
The Lumia 435 Dual Sim is priced at 2,990 baht, while the Lumia 532 costs 3,590 baht. Microsoft is also offering exclusive features such as pre-installed Microsoft Office, cloud storage and Skype, a value of 1,000 baht, for free on these models.
“This segment could have one of the highest growth rates this year, about 30% of the overall handset market,” Mr Samarn said.
He expects Thailand will see sales of 20-25 million new mobiles overall this year, of which 15-20% will be basic phones. But basic users will eventually decline as the regulator forces operators to migrate all 2G subscribers to 3G.
Head developer Jirapat Janjerdsak said Microsoft Devices planned to encourage local software developers to develop applications to be compatible with its upcoming Windows 10 operating system. Microsoft hopes Windows 10 will gain significant market share, as its software serves universal applications that can be used by any Windows device.
Microsoft Devices Thailand became a unit of Microsoft after it acquired Nokia’s devices and services division, with Nokia used as Microsoft’s brand for basic phones.