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Nokia wants to give Apple a BlackBerry eye

Nokia moved one step closer in the Battle of the Smartphones with two sleek models that could take on Apple’s ultra-cool iPhone and the ubiquitous BlackBerry devices, reports Ruchi Hajela.
Hindustan Times | By Ruchi Hajela, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUL 04, 2008 10:54 PM IST

The 3G revolution which enable video-conferencing and online trading on handsets is coming and the divide between corporate and personal lives is thinning —and there is a new war brewing slowly in the business of high-end phones that enable it all.

Market leader Nokia moved one step closer in the Battle of the Smartphones on Thursday with two sleek models that could take on Apple’s ultra-cool iPhone on the one hand and the ubiquitous BlackBerry devices that corporate executives use to do e-mail on the move.

“We are not here to kill someone, we are here to offer complete solutions,” Devinder Kishore, Director, Marketing at Nokia India, said as the Finnish company launched the E-71 and E-66 devices that are like mini-handheld-computers rich in features.

Competition in the high-end segment is increasing and industry pundits like Gartner have been talking of the need for Nokia to boost usability and design.

Priced between Rs. 23,000 and 24,000, the handsets enable e-mail and 3G services, besides location-based navigation in addition to a 3.2 megapixel camera.

Though not a touchscreen device like the iPhone, the E-66 has a sleek slider top and the E-71 a QWERTY keyboard that makes e-mail easier. The devices can support corporate software applications, which could enable bulk sales to companies.

Such devices that enable everything from music downloads to video-conferencing, Internet surfing and corporate e-mail have taken the thunder away from ailing brands like Palm, which once led the handheld device revolution and are taking traditional handset makers to a domain hitherto ruled by computer companies. However, it remains a high-end player.

“The smartphone category constitutes a fraction of the overall mobile handset market in India and will continue to remain niche in the near future,” said Naveen Mishra, Manager, Communications Research at IDC India.

Nokia sold about 14.5 million smartphones globally in the period between January to March this year followed by Research in Motion (RIM) that sold about 4.3 million BlackBerrys. About 1.7 million units of the iPhone were sold during the same period.

The iPhone has its cult value thanks to a fashionista appeal.

RIM diversified its portfolio last year by increasing its focus on lifestyle features and applications packed in a slimmer body.

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