Paul de Bendern
HELSINKI: Nokia, the world's largest handset maker, will launch two new
mobile phones on Monday including one with a big colour screen in an attempt to
match products from rivals, Swedish media reported on Friday.
Nokia declined to comment on the two models, which look like a direct
challenge to recently launched and well-received devices from arch rival Sony
Ericsson like the T68 model, which has a colour screen, and the cheaper T65.
Swedish media reported, without citing sources but displaying photos showing
the devices, that Nokia would unveil the 7650 colour-screen phone and the 5210
device, targeted at the youth market, at the Nokia Mobile Internet conference in
Barcelona on Monday.
Nokia phone launches are important for the industry because of the Finnish
company's number-one position in handsets, with a 34 percent shares of the
Helsinki-based brokers said Nokia shares turned to positive territory in part
due to the media reports, trading 1.7 percent higher at 28.40 euros ($25.13) at
1425 GMT in firm market.
"We do not confirm nor comment on the speculations in the Swedish
media," Nokia spokesman Tapio Hedman told Reuters.
Nokia has previously said it planned to discuss new product news at the
Barcelona conference, which runs until Wednesday.
"We have not made any new product announcements since the 5510... We do
not pre-announce phone launches," Hedman said.
The 5510, which doubles up as a music player and features a keyboard for text
typing, was unveiled last month, and that device also appeared in the media
prior to the official launch.
The 7650, which would be Nokia's first colour display phone, has a large
screen covering most of the device with a joy stick -- like Sony Ericsson's T68
-- to navigate through the menu, according to images shown on several Swedish
Underneath the cover rests a standard phone keyboard, which slides out from
underneath for use. Analysts expected the phone to be priced at the higher end
of the market.
Nokia has been pressed to unveil more advanced models since Sony Ericsson, a
recently formed mobile phone venture, launched the T68 in Europe and other
mobile Internet-enabled devices.
Nokia was expected to launch a colour-screen phone before the summer of 2002,
probably in the second quarter. "It is therefore possible that Nokia has
been forced to speed up the timetable due to Ericsson T68's success. We
therefore expect 7650 to be launched already during Q1, 2002," Mandatum
Stockbrokers said in a research note.
It was unclear if the two devices would run GPRS (General Packet Radio
Service) technology currently being rolled out in Europe, which offer speedy and
"always-on" Internet connection.
But the 7650 was expected to be a challenger to devices, like Samsung's,
powered by Microsoft Stinger operating system and Internet browser, which has
not yet hit the market.
Analyst expected the 7650 to have Web-friendly Java software and multimedia
messaging service (MMS), which is seen replacing popular SMS text messaging. MMS
will allow users to send long messages, pictures and audio to other users.
Earlier this year Nokia said it would have 50 million mobile phones powered
with Java, which lets users download games and other programs from the Internet,
on the market next year. Nokia also said it planned to launch several new
products by the third quarter next year which have Java. Java-enabled handsets
and colour screens have become a huge success in Japan, the most advanced mobile