Microsoft's new Lumia smartphones are the cheapest Windows Phones the company's ever made, it announced Wednesday. The Lumia 435 and 532 are part of Microsoft's continuing effort to claw back market share by targeting fast-growing markets abroad.
The 435 and 532 will go on sale in Asia, the Middle East and Europe for $80 (69 Euros) and $91 (79 Euros) respectively.
"We’ve realized our goal of creating the most affordable Lumia devices to date, opening up the opportunity to reach those people who are buying a smartphone for the very first time," corporate vice president for Microsoft's phones unit Jo Harlow said in a statement.
The bargain-basement Lumias will join a growing portfolio of Microsoft phones for shoppers on a shoestring budget, particularly in the developing world. Earlier this month, the company unveiled a $29 "Internet-ready" phone, not quite smart enough to be called a smartphone, but cheap enough to attract first-time buyers. Now those same buyers can upgrade to a Lumia smartphone for an extra $50, giving them an incentive to stick with the Windows brand.
And if there's anything Microsoft's mobile unit is hurting for right now, it's loyal smartphone customers. Global market share for Windows-enabled smartphones has flatlined around 3%, according to sales data collected by market research firm IDC:
If Microsoft wants to attract a virtuous cycle of users and app developers to its Windows mobile platform, clearly it could use a defibrillator. It appears that Microsoft is now looking abroad to find that jump-start, where obscure competitors can come roaring out of nowhere and unseat the established players. China's Xiaomi, for example, went from relative obscurity to the top mobile phone seller in the Chinese market last year, clocking in at 240% sales growth, according to the tech research firm Canalys. So don't rule out a miraculous revival of Windows phones just yet.