Sales in emerging markets have the potential to make a big impact on the smartphone industry, and right now it seems like everyone’s trying to figure out how to get a slice of the action. Android might have a head start with the abundance of lower-end models already available, and we’ve heard about Apple considering a new iPhone design with a low price point. For Windows Phone, we’ve seen models like the Huawei Ascend W1, which should sell for around $260, but is that cheap enough to draw users to the platform? It seems like Microsoft thinks its OEMs could do even better, and is rumored to be working on a new reference design for very budget-priced WP8 handsets.
According to Digitimes, Microsoft is teaming up with Qualcomm for this project, along with MediaTek. Supposedly, the companies are looking to finalize a design by sometime towards the middle of the year, at which point OEMs could adapt it to make their own very affordable Windows Phone 8 models. With this reference design giving them such a head start, it’s anticipated that finished products could already start rolling out by the second half of the year.
We know, it’s hard to get very excited about lower-end hardware, but Microsoft desperately needs to grow its user base, and if this allows the company to do so, so much the better for it.