Nokia is getting ready to reveal a new line of devices for its struggling smartphone business but it is also doubling down on its still-strong feature phone line, too. Today the Finnish handset maker announced an extension of a deal with Zynga to add Draw Something and Zynga Poker to Nokia Asha Touch feature phones along with the rest of the Nokia Series 40 range. The games will start rolling out in Q3 (this autumn) and will cover 100m users, Nokia says. The deal is a sign both of how Nokia is working hard to keep users on its devices in the face of strong competition from Samsung and cheap Android handset makers; and how Zynga is looking to grow its user base internationally at a time when the company’s bottom line has faltered (as have plays of recently-buzzy Draw Something).
Both games will be freemium: free to download from Nokia Store with the option of purchasing in-game credits. These are the first Zynga games to make their way to Nokia feature devices.
And just as this will help Nokia potentially drive more people to its Asha devices, it is also a potentially big boost for Zynga to grow its user numbers as well — particularly in developing markets where Nokia still often comes out as the most-popular handset maker. It also helps Zynga breathe some new life into one of its older games, Zynga Poker, as well as Draw Something. Zynga bought Draw Something maker OMGPOG for $180 million in April 2012 but has since seen falling user numbers.
It’s unclear how and if Draw Something and Poker will be modified for the non-smartphone range. But you can see how this strategy fits in well with other plans that Zynga has: the international (outside of U.S.) online gambling market is worth some $32 billion annually, according to gambling platform maker Betable (also now working in gambling on iPhones, courtesy of a deal announced yesterday with Big Fish games). Zynga has made no secret of its interest in doing more real-money gambling in its games. Given that the Asha is very popular in emerging markets, where gambling rules may be looser than those in the U.S., this could spell a very lucrative opportunity for Zynga.
The Zynga games will be added to the range of games already on Nokia Asha Touch devices from publishers like EA, Gameloft, Rovio, NAMCO BANDAI.
This is an extension of a deal that Nokia and Zynga announced in June of this year to bring Draw Something, Words with Friends and other games to its Lumia smartphone range.
“It’s great to expand our offering of Zynga games to deliver more blockbuster titles across our portfolio of mobile devices, giving consumers great choice and tremendous value,” Bryan Biniak, VP & GM, Global Partnering & Application Development, Nokia, said in a statement. “With premium design, powerful hardware and outstanding gaming capabilities, we’re redefining what consumers expect from today’s feature phone experience.”
While Nokia has been seeing its market share in smartphones drastically fall, it has managed to stem the tide considerably with its sales of feature devices, which still make up the majority of phones sold worldwide today. In Q2, the company reported feature phone sales, led by the Asha range, of $2.8 billion, down by only one percent on last year. Meanwhile, feature phone volumes grew by two percent to 73.5 billion units.
Nokia most recently reported that some 5 billion apps had been downloaded from the the Nokia Store (formerly known as Ovi). Between January and April 2012, 42% of all of the content in that store was for Series 40 devices. As developers have been flocking to iOS and Android, Nokia has been trying hard to keep them creating for its platform, too. It says that more than 500 Nokia developers have seen downloads of over 1 million for their apps, with India Games, Pico Brothers and Inode have all getting more than 100 million downloads.
Nokia has developed three Asha devices to date, and these are at the top end of feature phones rather than basic models: they include the Nokia Asha 311 with a 1GHz processor and capacitive touchscreen; the Nokia Asha 305 that Nokia bills as “a fun and affordable phone”; and the Nokia Asha 306, a single SIM model with WiFi access.