Does Nokia Have the Answer to Remaining Relevant?

Struggling to stay relevant in a smartphone market dominated by Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Nokia (NYSE:NOK) is finally releasing its first full touchscreen phones aimed at the budget end of the market.

Nokia was slow on the draw before, falling behind competitors as it allowed its product range to grow increasingly outdated. Now it is looking to fill that gap and again compete with rivals on their own territory, particularly in emerging markets, where there is greater demand for lower-end smartphones.

While slipping behind Apple and Google in the smartphone market last quarter, Nokia also lost its position as the world’s largest volume cellphone maker to Samsung. So while it bolsters its smartphone lineup, which uses Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) software, Nokia will also be looking to tap the booming market for basic phones with full touchscreens.

Analysts at Strategy Analytics estimated that 105 million such handsets were sold globally last year, with demand the strongest in emerging markets, where the price tag on a smartphone — and the expensive monthly data plans — are more than many can afford.

Nokia (NYSE:NOK) isn’t blazing any new trails — in fact, Samsung has had a full-touch, low cost device since June 2009. Instead, Nokia is only trying to recover lost ground in an arena it once dominated. Until now, Nokia has only had full touchscreen phones in smartphone segments.

The Asha 305 model will go on sale this month for 63 euros, excluding subsidies and taxes, Nokia said on Wednesday. The Asha 306 and 311 models will go on sale next quarter for 68 euros and 92 euros, respectively.