Facebook is itching to connect the next billion people. So is Google. Microsoft has been itching to get in on the fun too, and while there's no shortage of cheap Windows Phones to entice all those first-time smartphone shoppers around the world, the folks in Redmond still have their eyes on the most developing of developing markets. That's why the company just pulled back the curtain on what may be the dumbest of dumbphones: the Nokia 130, a $25/€19 device that makes phone calls, fires off SMS messages and... that's about it.
Alright, maybe that's not totally fair -- after all, the 130 does accept microSD cards, sport an LED flashlight (no camera here, natch) and play videos. Just, you know, don't expect to cruise the web on this thing. Microsoft's trying to position it as a first cell phone, or a backup in case you don't want to ruin your fancy smartphone while traipsing through the backcountry. Here's the thing, though: the release of the 130 isn't just Microsoft cleaning house, a last spasmodic cough meant to clear the pipes for newer, smarter devices to come. Microsoft vice president Jo Harlow told Re/code that the company is committed to the low-end cause, adding that Microsoft doesn't have anything else to reach that valuable swath of users. Need even more proof? Check out this tweet from Microsoft spokesperson Doug Dawson:
It's not hard to see how Microsoft could gain some ground with this approach. If they hook first-time phone buyers with cheap, robust hardware, they've got a target pool they can tease with the promise of a more-connected future through services like OneDrive working in tandem with Windows Phones. But whether or not things go down exactly that way? That's another story entirely.