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Forbes: Nokia positioned to own the low-end smartphone market against Samsung, HTC, Blackberry and Apple

So far the Nokia Lumia 520 has been a sleeper hit. It’s the cheapest Windows Phone to date and it is constantly topping charts for in emerging markets. It seems we hear stories weekly on how the device is selling well in market after market. Here in the United States it’s available for AT&T as a GoPhone and T-Mobile sells a variant called the Lumia 521.

So how’s it going to fare against further attacks in the low-end smartphone market against competitors like Samsung and Apple?

Over at Forbes, Tero Kuittinen outlines a brinkmanship scenario where Nokia comes out on top. Don’t worry, I wasn’t familiar with the term either. Brinkmanship is the situation where you push dangerous events to the verge of disaster in the hopes that your opponents will have to make concessions and/or back down. In this case, Nokia is in a position to own the low-end smartphone market because companies like HTC, Blackberry, and Apple won’t be able to make appealing devices at low prices.

So if Nokia continues to push the boundaries of what is possible with smartphones built for emerging markets it could very well come out on top. Companies like HTC and BlackBerry will have to respond by producing their own devices for these markets, but if Nokia continues on the path they’ve set they’ll be able to keep ahead of the game.

This is the second time in recent weeks where Nokia's low-end strategy has been highlighted as potentially a devastating weapon against its competitors. Earlier, it was a quote by ABI research and reported by Bloomberg saying essentially the same thing as Forbes. That sort of building consensus is important for long term opinions of the company.

Getting back to the Lumia 520 in particular, that device has been doing well because you can get it for under $160 dollars. The quality you get in terms of the combination of hardware and software can’t be matched by Android. Once again, from Forbes:

"Discussions with both T-Mobile and AT&T managers in New York, Chicago and Miami indicate that the $130 Lumia 521 for T-Mobile and the $100 Lumia 520 GoPhone for AT&T are now substantial hits in the contract-free category. The main draws in both Asia and America seem to be camera and display quality, which are great for the price point. Nokia seems to finally have found its legs in the US market after the deeply disappointing spring quarter."

Windows Phone ecosystem

In essence, Nokia is going for volume in shipments over large revenue margins per device.

What about Apple? They’ve been rumored to have a “low-end” smartphone in the works for quite some time. Indeed, it looks like this September we’ll finally see a smartphone from them that is aimed at emerging markets called the iPhone 5C. Can it out-Nokia Nokia? I don’t think so. John Gruber has a really good post on the situation that you should read. He’s a long time Apple watcher, blogger, and commenter who comes to the conclusion that the iPhone 5C will basically be priced between $349 and $399. That’s nearly $200 more than the average global price of the Lumia 520 even if it comes in at $349.

Windows Phone has some more work in order to close the “quality app gap” between itself and iOS. But Nokia can make a very strong case for itself in emerging markets with devices like the Lumia 520 and whatever else it has in store. Especially if the best Apple can do is produce a device that’s $200 more expensive.

Sound off below with some of your own arm chair analysis. 

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Reader comments

Forbes: Nokia positioned to own the low-end smartphone market against Samsung, HTC, Blackberry and Apple

131 Comments

Ah, it was done with a wink, like a poke in the ribs, not meant to be offensive.
Still, i was surprised that you he never heard the term.   I figured it'd come up in any odd High School History class about any war, ever.

I'm thinking about getting the new iPhone, and picking up a 520 on the side...then when the 8.1 blue devices come out I'll re evaluate

hehehe, thinking about the same, im getting one although i have a L720 :D, and im getting my dad one too for his birthday :D it will make an amazing gift, especially that he isnt that tacky with apps.

I own both a 1020 and a One. Can't put my Lumia down but I don't deny the power of Android to truly let me use the device how I want to.

My feelings exactly. I own a 920 and want to buy a 520 as well. My wife might be surprised  but I guess my 9 year old is ready to have her own smartphone on a prepaid service!

Do it.  It might be a wierd concept, but I think the 520 is a great companion device to a higher end 920.  They share the same micro SIM card for swapping.  They sync all their data, even texts!  You could literally set your 520 up exactly like your 920, and have 99% the exact same experience.  Take the 520 out when you do more rugged stuff like hiking, or even if you just want a lighter load in your pocket (thats what she said).  Take the 920 out when you want that better camera, or the better screen visibility in sunlight.  Heck you could even keep one phone in the car to swap for when your main phone looses charge.

That's crazy, but then i'm thinking it's probably not much more expensive than getting a spare battery (not that we can do that with the 920) and gives you a back-up phone. Nokia are too good to us giving us so much phone for so little money. Tempted now...

Be nice if we had a Verizon variant, but doubt VZW will do that.  They have their own prepaid service, so maybe they will decide to get one in the end.  I've still thought about buying a 520 for music, games, and wifi use.  I also don't mind helping add to Nokia's bottom line since I LOVE their phones.

 

Unless money is a big object, I'd probably skip the 520.  It's been getting great reviews, but always with the caveat that it's great because it's so inexpensive.
For slightly more money, you can get the 620 which add the ClearBlack polarizer (getting rid of the complaints about the 520 screen), a flash (LED, but better than nothing), NFC, and a front facing camera.
Don't get me wrong, I also think the 520 is a great device, especially at that price point, but you said you have a 920 right now and I think you'd be awfully disappointed in the screen quality of the 520.  The ClearBlack adds a lot of contrast.

The Lumia 52x has the advantage of being available on a tonne of carriers, though. The 620 appears to be less broadly available around the world.

Cheap phones have always been Nokia's forte. I am not surprised by this development. For 10,000 rupees, it is impossible to get a comparable Droid phone in India. NOKIA will rule the sub 10k market in India for sure

The advantage of the 520 over comparatively priced Android is the 520 performs better. If you say there are Androids with prices even lower than the 520, you are actually entering into CrapDroidDom already.

Good job Nokia!  Those of us who have a flagship device should be thanking all of the people that buy the 520 or 620.  If it wasn't for those 2 devices selling well I think developers wouldn't pay attention to windows phone.  Even if we are just as loud or louder than we are now.  Thank you 520 and 620!

Yes thanks. Thanks for all the joy that come with the range of phones. Cant believe it in the comments myself. It is just wonderful. Thanks again. Especially after I knew before I bought my phone that the Apps are not quite there and might not come.

Well, to be fair they should also thank us! Its the high end "Hero" phone buyers, who are paying $500-$700 (including contract fees) who are providing the funds to develop Nokia's cutting edge technologies and production techniques. They roll downhill rapidly to low end devices, making them such a bargain. In effect, High and Low end Nokia buyers are symbiots!

+920 for symbiots... the world isn´t black and white, its usuallys different shades of grey and everything is interconnected...

+620 to the symbiots, loving the low end right now, maybe craving a flagship next year. 520/620 reminds me that smartphones don't have to be expensive to be useful, and I like useful cheap stuff . Who doesn't right?

This is exactly what ARM did to Intel and it works. Also it is the number of phones out there that draws dev interest. If windows phone is massive even in just cheap phones you can expect google to fall over themselves to create apps for the platform.
Good job.

The difference is that Nokia can build Flagship phones - ARM on the other hand can't. Intel will always have the best performance. even in the low level sector

Agreed.the only bastion they can conquer.they have got nothing new and exciting to make high-end smartphone buyers swing in their way.well done nokia!!!you know where you gonna rule!

HTC has no one to blame but themselves. Nokia saw an Android play as a bad bet because Samsung owned the platform. HTC was in the perfect spot to capture Windows Phone but it split its bets and in musical chairs finds Samsung in the Android chair and Nokia in the Windows Phone chair. Sorry HTC no other chairs.

Nokia knows the Low-End Market very well. They know what people want: Value for their Money!
You cant sell a low end device these days without giving it some useful features and some "good" Specs (DualCore, SupSensitivScreen on the 520,etc.).
Furthermore, WP8s buttery smooth experience on low-end devices is a huge PLUS for Nokia.
 

Wonder what the ratio is of sold 5 series versus 9 series phones? Smart move and congratulations Nokia!

Microsoft needs to take the hint here and apply the same strategy to the Surface tablet brand (if Nokia doesn't beat them to it with their phablets and a possible RT tablet).
Get wide distribution of super value-priced stuff and generate VOLUME.

While I think Nokia is smart to have great flagship and price driven excellent low end device, Microsoft will only piss their hardware partners if do the same,

Where do u think these hardware partners go if they get pissed by MS... nowhere they cant sell anything else except for windows... MS makes gr8 products the only reason for the failure of those products is that they are limited to the US only if MS goes for a global launch and at genuine price points then people will buy those... This was the sole reason for the failure of zune and also for the surface gen1 tabs

Yeah surface just hit my country a few months ago. Microsoft should push surface like devices in emerged market like mine. Most people use pirated windows here. But they pay for osx and IOS because it come preloaded.

If surface came earlier in my country, I bet it will sell a lot better.

They'll go to Android, and Microsoft is already facing an uphill battle in the low-end tablet market against Android, many OEMs make cheap Android tablets but won't do the same for Windows RT. At this point, with so many OEMs ditching Windows RT, I think it's fair game for Microsoft to really drop the price on the Surface RT ($249-299) and also launch a Surface RT mini and price it at $199.

I'm sure they wanted that - I think they expected the Surface to be the upper price range for the RT line. However what happened was that the Surface RT was the same price as all of the other tablets.

Everyone wants the margins to go up, but the market is just too competitive right now.

So I agree with you the Surface Mini better be well priced, and the RT 2 needs to be the same price as the current RT ($349) AND it should include a cover. You know those covers cost a couple of dollars to make, selling them for $100-$120 would be fine if there was huge demand for the product like Apple, but when you're entering a new market... I mean how is this so difficult for them to understand?

All I think of is how much better it would be with 8.1 if not for those slow pokes in Redmond. Aliens might even land on earth just to pick one up! Maybe the 525.....

Someone like Apple can move quickly because they only have to satisfy their own needs. MS is all about 3rd party hardware and partnerships with OEM's. All of that slows the process down

I am not sure but if apple makes there mini less expensive iPhone for $239-$249.00 I think more people will buy that in Nokia 520 just because it is apple

Not necessarily true. Nokia may not have the brand recognition in the US that Apple has but globally Nokia is much bigger in the mobile phone arena.

I agree; we have to remember that is was just a little over a year ago that Nokia was still the top producer of phone globally.  They were doing this with a tiny market share in the USA.  This means that they owned Asia, Africa, and most of Europe.  They are planning on doing the same again and making themselves and WP relevant.
The difference this time is that they have MS to help back them through the process. 
They only issue is the USA; those of us here will have a harder time seeing the change becuase people are stuck on iOS and Android.  However, the tides will turn when we can finally lock down the apps and show true integration between WP and Win8.

Its supposed to cost less for Apple but have the same price as their current lineup, resulting in larger margins. I doubt its supposed to be used for non-contract.

I still say it isn't the app situation that's holding WP8 back its just there's not enough phones by different manufacturers. We need Sony, LG, etc.
When you go into a high street store there's 3 or 4 Windows Phones vs 30+ Android phones.
Nokia is doing the right thing right now getting out a Nokia Lumia at every price point. They need to keep it up, even double the amount of phones they have.
Even do what they are doing with the Lumia 620 they make a large screen 625.
Do similar with all their current phones.

People hear missing apps and it is enough to nit try the platform. Don't expect more companies, in fact it confuses people. Nokia alone is best.

I dont care for LG, but I do really like the Sony Xperia line. However I doubt Sony will cross over to WP since they are in a living room battle with Microsoft.

I would disagree with diluting their current lineup by doubling their current offerings. Too much choice causes confusion and dilutes marketing dollars effectiveness. Look at HTC's situation for a reason why too many phones are no good.

Theyve got the price points down, I would now focus on hitting all the niche features that Samsung has. Get some mid- and high-end keyboard phones out NOW to capture the soon-to-be leaving Blackberry crowd. Camera-centric phones? Check. Slide out QWERTY feature phones too (I work in wireless sales and I notice that people who don't want smartphones gravitate toward Samsung feature phones because of their marketing and so they can say they have a Samsung).

ok, that was a lot. I'm done.

Nokia needs to get Windows Phone in as many hands as they can, and if that is through cheaper phones, so be it. Windows Phone suffers from being "unfamilure" and people aren't willing to "risk" it on high end phones. They will buy high end phones once they have had their chance to dabble with the cheaper ones.

I bought my wife a Lumia 520 from Amazon for $88 as a replacement for her Samsung Focus. With the exception of missing an LED flash, it is a much better phone. I have a 920 and would consider the 520 a good, cheap alternative if I have an accidental break before I can get a new subsidized phone.

I will say that at one time I said "I would never buy a phone without a flash" but I have changed my opinion. The ONLY time I use my flash is to use it as a flashlight.

Now if I had a Xenon flash that would be a different story. But my point is that a good camera doesn't need a flash as the LED flash rarely helps make the picture any better and Nokia is proving that with their tech.

Using my flash as a flashlight is the only thing I miss from my 900. Other than that, I'm loving the 520!

Due to my Lumia 900 falling into a lake over the weekend. I picked up a Lumia 520. For 100.00 it is a great phone. Came with gdr2 and the amber update. It is a great phone for people who want to try windows phone 8 out without paying a lot. Anyone out there should have this phone in your drawer as a back up phone

Oh Jesus christ, I've been laughing at your reply for the last minute or so, great comeback to opening comment.

I just can't for the day when WP steals the #2 spot from IOS. Keep up the good work guys! We love WP!

No matter the outcome, a positiv market will give credibility to the "-in for the long haul" and finally convince app developers. I hope MSFT isn't planning to drastic changes in apu's and codes now (except for more?) because that would fracture the market and implode Nokia.

Two days my cusin asked me if he should buy a L720 (like mine), the sales man at the store convinced him to get some small weird HTC droid, saying its better, sad, but makes me laugh for my cusins bad choice.

It's imperative that Nokia take the fight to the mid-end. Right now even mid-end Android offerings suck, and I firmly believe the mid-end will play a huge part in keeping the phone industry going. If you can roll out a $300 device with the latest technology but decent specs, you can expect many people to change phones every year irrespective of contracts.
 
My suggestion? I think the Lumia 920 should be the next Lumia 7xx device, i.e. PureMotion HD+ screen, PureView camera technology, dual-core CPU and 1GB of RAM. Of course, I'd add micro-SD card support and make Qi-charging optional so as to retain the 720's shape and weight. Push a 8GB Lumia 7xx to the market at $299 off-contract, and $349.99 for 16GB.
 
This will allow Nokia to take the fight to Samsung and Apple with ease. Why? PureView is now a key differentiator against Apple, and Nokia's culture is a differentiator against Samsung. Moreover, a $299 7xx with customization options in terms of coloured Qi-covers, two-toned designs, etc. could throw the Moto X off...

Oooh, I like that burnt orange color of that phone.  Is such an exterior available for the 920 (surgery would obviously be required).
 

I gotta admit, when the 520 was announced, I was skeptical.  The 620 was nice, would that leave any room for the 520?  But wow, looks like Nokia hit the nail on the head, and now I'm wondering if there's room for the 620.
 
The more windows phones get in the hands of consumers, the better it is for the entire community!  This is probably the BEST AND BIGGEST news for windows phone since Nokia announced moving to WP.  

Lots of folks who are with MetroPCS in the US want Lumia 520/521 phones.
Unfortunately, they are nowhere to see.
MetroPCS stores employees don't know anything about Lumia 520/521 availability.
Also, even MetroPCS Web site removed them.
 
So it reminds me AT&T story where Nokia and AT&T politicians/CEOs strike the  deal, commercials are flying...
But AT&T (and Best Buy) stores employees are subotaging the deal and promote iPhone and Galaxy only.

There's been rumors that Apple's budget iPhone is gonna cost $490. Knowing Apple there's a chance that iPhone 5C is gonna be too expensive for a true budget smartphone so in that case Nokia is safe from Apple's emerging market "threat" ;)

Seems to be a market disruption/Blue Ocean type of strategy. Using specs that are good enough for the masses for a low price. Nintendo did a similar thing with the Wii going up against the 360 and PS3, although did a bad job of following up that momentum. With Nokia already having flagships that are industry leaders in some areas I don't think they'll have the same problem. It is outdoing Android's original strength in the smartphone market by capturing the entry level users. Samsung have made big inroads to move into the top end of the market with the Galaxy 3 & 4, but the OS limits what they can do at the bottom end.

Get Lumia 620 from AIO for $99 with no contract. It has front camera, LED Flash and backlit capacitive buttons

Yup, the 620 is a fabulous phone.
 
While I'm very happy the 520 is selling like hot-cakes, the 620 still holds top-spot in my heart for the sweet-spot of budget phone price/features.  Plus, the dual-shot color shells are drool-worthy.
 
The 620 has a front-facing camera, a flash on the rear camera, a full set of sensors (the 520 lacks a digital compass/gyroscope), and has access to the full Nokia Drive+ offering (520 limited to a single country of downloaded maps, Drive+ is unlimited).  That's not a knock on the 520, which still has tremendous value.  But if you can spare the extra money, the 620 is a great phone that's still very affordable.

This strategy was highlighted in the book The Innovator's Dillema (a book Steve Jobs too closely to heart).  The recurring theme throughout that book is that it's easier to dominate the low end of the market and work your way up than it is to dominate the high end of a market and work your way down.  Hopefully Nokia can make a go of it with this strategy and try to regain some of its lost dominance.

HTC and BB are in no position to compete in the low end market.  HTC's high-end and mid range business is not doing so well and it will continue due to Samsung's dominance.  BB is pretty much a sinking ship, they have all the money in the world with no debt, but they need to use capital to invest in R&D and to build both a low-end and high end product, but they can't do both.  Im not sure if they can do one because BBs branding awareness is putrid at this point. 
 
Samsung i think is the only OEM that can compete with Nokia.  The positive think about NOkia's low end like the 520 lumia's is that it look like the same OS on the high end 920s, but its nto obvious about the 512 ram app fragementation.  When people look at the 520, they think it will be teh same experience on the 520 as if they bought a 920 which is good.  Of course, they can't expect a great camera for a $150 phone so that is the tradeoff. 
 
There will be a market for low end phones, especially those that use a flip phone and want a cheap upgrade, lumia's are that phone.  Inexpensive and the perception that it works just like a high end lumia. 
If it was possible that the 620 was the 520, it would be a big seller if it were that cheap.  620 is a great phone for a mid to low end phone. 

This is the reason the high end is not selling well...because people feel the 520 is good enough with a similar experience as the 920. It's a catch 22 really, people will buy this low end one and when time comes for a new phone they will probably buy another low end where the profit margin is so small Nokia has to sell alot more then apple will ever have to to make a real profit that investors will rally behind. 

I doubt Apple will be able to compete at the low end - its such a foreign concept to the Company, and their services are always equally overpriced. Remember MobileMe for "only" $100/year?
Apple has never been an innovative company, it strives instead to be a "perfective" company. Cashing in on other's ideas and inventions by wrapping them in a shell of design. However their chief strongpoints, simple UI, reliable devices and services, are all gone now. iOS "innovation" consist primarily of copying as much of WP8.0 as they can because the old fashioned drop-down menues are driving people nuts! Their Displays are too small, their cameras too limited to stand up to Nokia. All they have going for them is their App catalog, an advantage that is eroding daily.

When you consider that very few people have Macs, but lots s of people have PCs, the obvious advantage of WP is clear. Add a price advantages and Apple is in deep trouble within 24 months.

I own the Lumia 520 and it's amazing. People are still surprised when I tell them it only costs ZAR1800 contract free. With the 625 on its way, more people will go for the platform simply because you just can't beat Nokia at these levels. Samsung phones at these prices are non existent.
Great job Nokia, now I'm just waiting for the new 500 series. Hopefully we'll get 1Gb of RAM. Nudge nudge.

Nokia haven't come out with Lumia 3 series yet, which I suspect that they will.  When they do, I think they will make sure that it becomes a flagship phone again like Nokia 3310.
 

One reason Nokia is positioned to own the low-end smartphone market is due to the Windows Phone OS.  Hats off to M$. Nokia can release on more cost-saving, lower-end hardware specs which result in the same fluid and speedy response users want in mid or high tier smartphone.

That is definitely one thing Microsoft got right. I've seen WP run on devices like the 610. You'd never believe they had half the ram of the flagship.

I bought the Lumia 520 as a temporary device before upgrading to Lumia 1020, but I am already loving the phone that I may keep using it longer and see what comes after the 1020

This is great, but does Nokia need this many phones to pull it off? Apple will probably take a significant chunk of that market with a single phone. Nokia, on the other hand, has to manage multiple product lines and too frequent model updates.

That's the advantage of WP, works well on lower end hardware as well with few limitations. Sure you miss some apps, but the experience is still smooth everywhere else. Not to mention you get good camera with a Nokia model.

520 main problem isn't the flash is the lack of front camera for skype videocalls.  Bring a 420 with a front facing camera for 100 dollars. 

And again we see clearly that it's Nokia which does the good work. Only Microsoft seems to be the limit.
Just imagine for a second Nokia would have come out with a good own smartphone os in time and would not entirely depend on MS.
But this is history never happened. 

At CES this year, Nokia released 520 and 720. It disappointed many people. I said at the time, it was greatest release by Nokia. Now I long for Lumia 420 and 320.

Here in Indonesia, we can have a quad core Android with 8 mp Camera , dusl sim and 5" screen for around $220. Even if 520 is sold for $150, most would prefer to go with that 220 price. Why ?
1. The price gap is too small. $70 is something most people can afford here, especially for people who look at the spec rather than performance
2. Not enough promotion is done by either Nokia nor Microsoft to promote their project products

Indonesians are currently divided mostly between BB and Androids, with BB is loosing ground slowly but sure. We are famous in the world for our BBM, twitter and Facebook community size. I think it's a shame that Nokia ( & Microsoft) is doing little to nothing to try and get those people converting from BB.

I use 920, but that's almost all I know using Lumia phone in my company. The other one is using 720, and that's it.The rest are still using BB, some already convert to Xperias, some minors are great fans of Galaxies or Iphones.

It's a shame that Nokia is forgetting this potential market of 150 million cell,phone users. Anybody can tell me why ?

Here in Indonesia, we can have a quad core Android with 8 mp Camera , dusl sim and 5" screen for around $220. Even if 520 is sold for $150, most would prefer to go with that 220 price. Why ?
1. The price gap is too small. $70 is something most people can afford here, especially for people who look at the spec rather than performance
2. Not enough promotion is done by either Nokia nor Microsoft to promote their project products

Indonesians are currently divided mostly between BB and Androids, with BB is loosing ground slowly but sure. We are famous in the world for our BBM, twitter and Facebook community size. I think it's a shame that Nokia ( & Microsoft) is doing little to nothing to try and get those people converting from BB.

I use 920, but that's almost all I know using Lumia phone in my company. The other one is using 720, and that's it.The rest are still using BB, some already convert to Xperias, some minors are great fans of Galaxies or Iphones.

It's a shame that Nokia is forgetting this potential market of 150 million cell,phone users. Anybody can tell me why ?

I am very interested in Lumia 520 but am confused whether to go for L520 or Galaxy S Duos. The thing is Lumia 520=good hardware but immature software and S Duos=crappy hardware but good software.Decisons decisons...

Where did you hear "immature software", Windows Phone OS is the most modern and well designed mobile OS to date. Android has a lot of "features" most of them garbage. The android OS just look ugly, it belongs to 10 years ago. If you say that's good software, I don't know what to say.

I know its well designed and modern looking however its missing a lot of basic features like individual volume settings for call,sms,music,etc.,native downloading of video restricted,no usb tethering,no bluetooth file sharing except ones taken generated by the phone and a few more.Inspite of all this i will probably still give WP8 a shot.Its smooth and buttery even on low end devices and that is something i cannot say for low end Androids.Its also got good specs comapared t other low end droids.

You are every bit right about everything you stated.

Those small features/settings WP is missing, it sucks. Im on a Evo LTE so I experience all those features Android has, but to be honest, sometime next week I will giving all of those small things up, maybe its not Android maybe its just HTCs' Sense but theres some small little bugs that are driving me crazy (that and im also leaving Sprint for Tmobile)

my browser cant keep a tab opened without it refreshing it everytime I leave the app and go back to it after taking a picture lets, for example -_- so yeah man I know ima miss some great tweaks Android provides but im willing to let that go for the Lumia 925 and the consistency of WP.

YOU WRITE THE BEST ARTICLES! So nice to see a reporter write not only articles that I love (because I'm bias here), but relevant, non-idiotic ones like some wannabes.  And what a good news about Nokia :D 

I agree. Nokia can control the low end of the market with its lower end phones. The biggest benefits are that you get excellent support, good performance, and solid build quality.

Agree too. Lumia 520 is best buy for Windows Phone 8 with low price. I bought it USD 185. Nokia should make more affordable price Lumias like Lumia 520 but has better specification. Increase internal memory from 8 GB become 16 GB or 20 GB internal memory, 512 MB RAM become 1 GB RAM.

Good, Lumia 625 will be released on September 2013. The price only is still not sure.

Picked up the 520 a couple of months ago ($150, then went on sale for $130 had the price matched).
I originally wanted an Android phone (because I have a Nexus 7 and was familiar with Android), but for under $200 I couldn't find a single worth while Android phone, so I gambled on this one.
Although at times I have a love/hate relationship with the operating system (mainly just certain apps missing), overall for $130 it is currently the single best phone for under $200 on the market. 
Even now, I've been thinking of picking up a Nexus 4 (or 5) at the end of the year, but there is something holding me to the 520.
Just one question for runners or cyclists. Does anyone know of a good arm band for the 520? I found one on eBay, just not sure how it is (Black Anti-Slip Sports Armband for Nokia Lumia 520 Windows Gym Running Jogging)

Again the question remains: will Nokia make money with that strategy? In q2 they lost on average $30 with every Lumia sold according to their financial report. With a even lower average price the margins will be even worse. And even the Lumia 520 was apparently priced too high for many as the sales price is down by about 30% already.

I'm very skeptical that this strategy works for Nokia to earn money again. One of their biggest mistakes since maybe 2006 has always been to only release low spec hardware compared to what's actually possible. Even in Symbian times when Sony released a Symbian phone with a retina-like display in Japan, Nokia still offered something with only 320x240 resolution.

Plus it's not the best for us WP users when most people will only recognize WP as the 'cheap low spec phone OS'.

It's a gamble. They are selling phones at the moment with low margins cause they are bulding a customer base for their Lumia/WP -phones. When more and more people switch to WP, more and more will hopefully switch to WP because of recommendations made by people already using WP. It's a snowball-effect. At least hopefully. I think Nokia is counting on that. And with 520, they are building that customerbase fast, and they are building it especially in emerging markets where there are low number of smartphone users at the moment. 
When it comes to people recognizing WP as the "cheap low spec phone os", I highly doubt that. Android's appeal hasn't lost anything because of these super-low-end -devices that don't work, and chinese crappy knock-off's. I think what Nokia and MS are doing strategy wise is great thing. All phones no matter what they cost, work equally. The higher pricetag comes with diffent hardwares implemented to phones (LTE, Camera, Wireless Charging, NFC, better screen, better PPI, higher storage etc). And of course the design. 

Lumia 520 is the best we can get with low budget. But I think Nokia can make a 400 Series. That would be perfect to win the lowend market.

Great plan,
Dominate the market from bottom up. Many people find out how great WP is by starting on a low end phone. Then later on when ready, they upgrade to mid-high end WP. Nicely played.
I am reading all these reviews on Amazon from people who are using WP for first time on this GO phone, and they like it.

I picked up a 520 from GoPhone as a backup phone for my IPhone 4. I played with it over the weekend and now I'm hooked. Nokia and Microsoft are clearly implement a winning strategy reminiscent of the Windows/Mac debacle of years past. Instead of competing on margin, the goal is to put as many Nokias in the hand of consumers. They will decide based on the merits of the hardware /OS combination.
This type of strategy has been tried successfully before. It may even allowed a lesser product to gain the upper hand. Fortunately this time, in my opinion, WP8 is a superior product. It is smooth, intuitive, and visually pleasing. Nokia's hardware is also easy on the eyes, robust, and ergonomically satisfying. So there you have it. This is just my humble opinion.

Nokia could do better in the low end space ($100-200) because most of their phones are leaning towards mid range ($300-350). Of course some of the released devices will get price cuts and become more affordable in time (but when ? and will they appeal then ?).

The mistake people make is calling the upcoming iPhone 5C a "budget device" with a price tag of $350. Clearly it'll be a better phone (hardware wise) than Lumia 720 is, maybe even better than 820 model when you account the apps, popularity of Apple brand etc. We shouldn't even compare iPhone 5C to the Lumia 520/620. Hopefully Nokia & Microsoft have something planned for October to turn the tide.

While Nokia is doing all the hard work in the hardware department...where is Microsoft with software updates???if microsoft speed up the updates im sure that wp8 with nokia will be the best phones in the world 

I have owned several  low end samsung/androids, and after trying the nokia lumia 521 for a month now, there's no way I'm going back, unless I buy a premium phone such as a Htc one. There's really no comparison to the quality that Microsoft has put out with Windows phone on low end devices. 

Love to see a Nokia resurgence.  The carriers are working against their efforts to dominate the low end market by their offers of "free" phones.  When a new Moto X comes out and every blog tells us it's going to be $200 at the carrier you understand the uphill battle.  Of course this benefits Nokia when they push their 1020 as well, so it's not a "conspiracy".
What's Nokia's independent retail presence like in North America?