HTC and Nokia have previously released handsets with Facebook-devoted buttons, but this marks a first for WhatsApp thanks to Nokia releasing a mobile phone with a dedicated WhatsApp physical button.
The feature triggers the cross-platform messaging app which offers a free alternative to SMS texts.Analysts suggested the move would make WhatsApp the text app of choice on the handsets, but suggested it would have limited impact on the wider mobile phone market due to it’s limitation to a few mobile phone models.
Nokia’s Asha 210 runs on the firm’s proprietary Series 40 operating system and will be targeted at consumers in emerging markets looking for a cheaper alternative to the Finnish firm’s Windows Phone range and other companies’ smartphones. The OS supports third-party web apps and software written in the Java programming language.
To achieve a targeted retail price of £47 ($72) Nokia decided that the device’s 2.4in (6.1cm) screen would not be touch-enabled.Users have to use its built-in Qwerty keyboard and navigation button to launch and operate apps, so having a dedicated key gives WhatsApp an edge over alternatives on the handset.In addition owners of the phone are offered a subscription to the app for the device’s lifespan rather than having to pay the normal annual fee.
Nokia however refused to reveal the financial terms of the arrangement and said it would monitor customer response before deciding whether to include the feature on any of its other devices.
“WhatsApp is doing quite well in emerging markets, but you have local players who are outstripping it simply because they are more culturally specific and can therefore outshine the US firm,” said Neha Dharia, an analyst at Ovum.
Since Nokia’s Asha range is predominantly targeted at consumers in Asia, Africa and the Middle East any benefits from the tie-up will come from those territories.
WhatsApp Messenger is a cross-platform mobile messaging app which allows you to exchange messages without having to pay for SMS. WhatsApp Messenger is available for iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Windows Phone and Nokia and those phones can all message each other because WhatsApp Messenger uses the same internet data plan that you use for email and web browsing, there is no cost to message and stay in touch with your contacts
Information from BBC News was used in this Article.