WhatsApp's first dedicated messaging button arrives via Nokia's Asha 210

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WhatsApp is introducing its first-ever dedicated instant messaging button via Nokia's (NYSE:NOK) new social-themed Asha 210 handset.

Asha 210

Nokia's Asha 210

The WhatsApp Messenger over-the-top application enables users to share text messages, voice notes and photos with contacts across the globe, without international messaging fees. Last week, WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum said users across all mobile platforms now transmit roughly 20 billion messages daily, including 8 billion inbound and 12 billion outbound. The Asha 210 boasts social phonebook integration to launch WhatsApp Messenger direct from contact cards in the phonebook, complete with a QWERTY keyboard for more efficient typing. "[The WhatsApp button] has been designed to allow people to easily update their social networks, stay in touch with friends and share user-created content," said Timo Toikkanen, Nokia's executive vice president of mobile phones.

WhatsApp will offer free service on all Asha 210 phones incorporating the Messenger button throughout the lifespan of each device. WhatsApp offers its Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone app for a one-time download fee of $0.99 while billing Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone users $0.99 per year after a one-year free trial period. Koum recently said the firm will shift the iOS version to the recurring subscription model later this year.

The Series 40-based Asha 210 also pre-installs Nokia's Slam, which enables users to transfer images and videos to another Bluetooth-enabled phone without pairing devices, as well as chat screen notifications to alert users to new conversations, a preloaded Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) YouTube launcher for direct video streaming, and Nokia Nearby, a Web app that lets consumers discover nearby points of interest like restaurants, retailers and ATMs. The Asha 210 additionally touts the Nokia Xpress Browser, which leverages the cloud to reduce data consumption by up to 90 percent, translating to more affordable Internet access.

Nokia will sell the Wi-Fi-enabled Asha 210 for around $72. The phone is expected to begin shipping worldwide during the current quarter.

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