US software giant Microsoft, which has been involved in the manufacture of smartphones since 2013 via its Microsoft Mobile unit, says it is launching new ‘low-cost’ models for Africa in a bid to boost its revenues in the smartphone segment in the region. Microsoft Mobile says the new ‘Lumia’ models are being made by Nokia – whose handset business it acquired in April 2014 – and marketed under the Microsoft brand name, following the signing of a ten-year licensing agreement completed in October last year. Suitable for use in the European, Asian and Middle Eastern markets too, Microsoft Mobile is launching the Lumia 435 and Lumia 532 in a number of African countries; the firm says the devices will be the cheapest ever Lumia phones, with prices of between USD81 and USD93. Both smartphones work with the Windows Phone 8.1 operating system containing Microsoft Office applications, Word, Outlook for email, Skype, and up to 30GB of free storage via the cloud.
It is not the first time that Miscrosoft has dipped its toe into the mobile phone market. In 2010 the firm oversaw the setting up of the short-lived ‘Kin’, which was made by Sharp and sold via Verizon Wireless. The device was aimed at users aged between 15 and 30.