For years, one of Microsoft's most important mantras was "high volume, low cost." The company grew a lot of its core businesses by undercutting its competitors' prices in order to build a larger customer base.
When Microsoft announced its plan to buy Nokia's handset business -- including the Asha, Series 40 Nokia X feature phone parts of it -- it seemed Microsoft was going to continue along that high volume/low cost path. Even though those phones didn't run the Windows Phone/Windows Mobile operating system, Microsoft's plan at the time seemed to be to treat these phones as a gateway to transition users to its Windows Phone platform (someday, somehow).
Microsoft's announcement today that it is selling off the remaining feature phone part of its mobile business and only "supporting" (not continuing to manufacture new models) of its Lumia Windows Phone line is yet another instance of Microsoft signaling "our strategy has shifted." In this case, however, the shift wasn't sudden or even really new.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced in 2015 that hardware, for Microsoft was meant to be a supporting player for Microsoft's software and services. Surface tablets, Lumia phones, non-Lumia-branded feature phones, Xbox, and the Microsoft Band were meant first and foremost to sell Microsoft software and services. That was a big change from former CEO Steve Ballmer's plan, which was to try to go head-to-head with Apple in the consumer-tech space...