updated 09:50 am EST, Wed January 25, 2012
Nokia hits symbolic milestone with S40
Nokia hit a milestone and a possible close to one phase of the industry on Wednesday after it sold its 1.5 billionth Symbian S40 phone. The device, an Asha 303 messaging phone, went to 21-year-old Mayara Rodrigues of Sao Paulo, Brazil. The platform has been around since 1999, starting with the Nokia 7110.
S40 has changed roles multiple times in its nearly 13-year history. The OS was once the core of Nokia's cellphone platform and made the 7110 the first phone with a WAP-capable web browser. As S60 took the high end, Nokia started shifting S40 towards the developing world and building phones that were low priced enough that many more in poorer areas like parts of Africa and rural India could afford them, in some cases as their only computing device.
Nokia has had to change S40 to compete with low-end Android and other smartphones. It now has support for web apps, some games and preloaded apps that give it some of the features of a smartphone without the price. Hitting 1.5 billion may represent a form of closure for Nokia, though, as its long-term decline has come with S40 sales down as users graduate to smartphones, for now often with Android, iOS, or another alternative.
A possible reflection of this came the same day as De' Longhi struck a deal with Nokia to buy its plant in Cluj, Romania. The factory, which handled S40 device production, had already started a phase-out in September but now had a company to take itsp place. De' Longhi's telecom business was considered a good fit and should take over the plant before the end of March if the handover is approved.
Nokia had previously justified the closure out of a desire to have manufacturing closer to where customers actually use basic phones like its S40 line. Leaving eastern Europe points to much of the continent having switched over to smartphones.