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Nokia draws on Zynga to boost Asha Touch line

The handset maker adds Draw Something and Zynga Poker to the offerings on its Asha line as it seeks to make up lost ground in the feature phone market.

Nokia Asha 311
Nokia's Asha 311. Nokia

Social gaming firm Zynga is teaming up with Nokia to make games Draw Something and Zynga Poker available on Nokia's Asha Touch phone models later this year.

According to a post yesterday on the Finnish phone maker's blog, the free game offerings are the next step in a partnership announced by the two companies several months ago.

Nokia's Asha 305, Asha 306, and Asha 311 phones are based on the S40 platform, and are part of the company's efforts to make up lost ground in the feature phone market. Owners of these mobile devices can already play games supplied by various developers including EA and Rovio. Twenty classic from Namco Bandai were announced for the Asha Touch phones last month.

Bryan Biniak, vice president and general manager of Nokia's Global Partnering & application development sector, said:

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. With premium design, powerful hardware and outstanding gaming capabilities, we're redefining what consumers expect from today's feature phone experience.

Research firm Gartner said this week that feature phones have become a way for Nokia to boost its smartphone sales. Despite the fact the Finnish firm has a long way to go, perhaps the social gaming space on mobile devices could result in a niche where Nokia would be a strong competitor -- despite the market marginally shrinking.

Bringing Draw Something -- purchased by Zynga for $180 million in April -- as well as the older game may entice more consumers to purchase the Ash phone range, which is popular in emerging markets. In the second quarter, the Finnish company reported feature phone sales of $2.8 billion, down by only 1 percent on last year, boltered by this new range of phones. Feature phone sale volume grew 2 percent to 73.5 billion units.

Nokia and Zynga are not the only companies considering the gaming industry. This month, Amazon said it plans to set up its "Amazon Game Studio" in order to enter the social gaming space.

This story originally appeared at ZDNet's Between the Lines under the headline "Nokia increases social gaming on mobile efforts."