RealTime IT News

Nokia 'On the Offensive' With New Phones

The new Nokia N97 mini
The new Nokia N97 mini
Source: Nokia. Click to enlarge.

Nokia, the world's largest phone maker, today revealed a new product lineup aimed at ensuring it stays at the forefront of the increasingly complex and competitive mobile market.

The company unveiled a new music phone series that integrates with Facebook as well as a scaled-down version of its flagship handset, called the N97 mini. Nokia (NYSE: NOK) also provided pricing and other details on the Booklet 3G, the company's entry into the fast-growing netbook market.

The new products, showcased at the company's Nokia World conference currently being held in Germany, are part of its latest strategy for gaining back lost market share. In large part, that effort will involve branching out into new realms of wireless devices and leveraging features it sees as being must-haves in mobile, such as social networking and music.

"We are not on the defensive -- we are on the offensive," Nokia Executive Vice President Anssi Vanjoki said during a keynote speech today at Nokia World.

The new N97 mini smartphone sports a feature Nokia calls Lifecasting with Ovi, which enables users to update their Facebook pages directly from the handset's touchscreen.

The phone includes a 5-megapixel camera, a 3.2-inch screen, video and music playback, GPS, 8GB of memory, a full keyboard, and it uses WCDMA, GPRS/EDGE, HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access) for data connections, but no 3G support. The operating system is Symbian S60, Nokia said.

The cost of the N97 mini will be about $645 when it goes on sale in October, but that's without a contract. It's not yet clear whether Nokia has partnerships in place with carriers to subsidize the cost of the unit and when it will be sold in the U.S.

However, Kai Oistamo, executive vice president of devices at Nokia, said the firm's strategy moving forward is to "absolutely" work with U.S. carriers to offer subsidized devices as a common practice.

"We are looking at AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile. We are working together with carriers to really create a seamless experience for the consumers... carriers provide an important element to how that's delivered," he said during a conference call with the press.

In the past, Nokia sold handsets directly to consumers, which meant they cost hundreds of dollars more than those subsidized by carriers that offset prices in exchange for the required two-year contracts. Right now Nokia's E71x is offered at reduced price by AT&T and is the only handset sold here under such a deal.

Next page: New handsets.