Nokia tries to entice US customers with $80 Astound

Posted by Mark Raby

After failing to attract, well, anybody in the US with its high-end smartphones, Nokia has opted for a different route.

The Nokia Astound was officially unveiled for a US release today. It will be hitting stores on April 6 through exclusive carrier T-Mobile, and may be one of the last phones over here to carry the Symbian 3 operating system.

Nokia is hemorrhaging money and market share right now, largely because of Symbian. The company is known for making some of the most unique, intriguing, eye-candy phones ever put on the market. But the problem is Nokia is also in the software business, and it has bullishly held onto its proprietary Sybmian platform.

In the world of Android and iPhone, Symbian just doesn't cut it anymore, and Nokia stock throughout the country has virtually evaporated. Earlier this month, the company shook the world when it announced it would be creating a phone with Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 software. Even crazier than the news that it would put Symbian on the backburner, though, is that it chose WP7 when it could have chosen Android.

But factor in that Nokia's new CEO used to be a Microsoft exec and there are reports Microsoft paid Nokia as much as $100 million for the honor of having a WP7 Nokia phone, and it kind of makes sense.

Before any of that happens, though, Nokia is taking one last stab with the Astound, which at $80 moves on a track to stop competing with Android and to appeal to budget-conscious consumers.

The Astound has an interesting history. Rabid phone addicts may know it is pretty much the same as the Nokia C7, which was announced in October but failed to attract any consumer or carrier interest. Or so it seemed.

T-Mobile snapped it up, rebranded it, and is now offering it as a low-cost alternative to today's smartphones, for those who may be intimidated by all the technology.

We'll see how this strategy works...