Nokia Dials Up New Smartphones

Nokia is betting on device convergence with three new gadgets with multiple functions. The announcements were tied to the annual Nokia Mobility Conference in Monaco and Destination Nokia in Bangkok.

The company announced the 7710, a smartphone PDA; the 3230 camera and video recorder smartphone; and the 6020 camera phone, geared toward a business audience.

But the importance of convergence is unclear in market a where plain old voice communication still holds center stage.

“When we do research, the No. 1 feature that is most important to consumers is voice communication,” Michael Gartenberg, vice president and research director at Jupiter Research, told TechNewsWorld. “Any device that purports to be a phone and doesn’t do it well is not going to be successful in the marketplace.”

Different Mixes

Gartenberg praised Nokia’s experimentation and noted that the company had carefully designed the different smartphones to appeal to difference audiences.

“Everyone is trying to come up with the right mix of voice and function,” he said.

“It is a very, very nascent market. Nokia hasn’t really entered the PDA market. What they’ve done is come up with an advanced wireless device that can make phone calls. These devices haven’t traditionally done well, but the market is changing.”

Feature-Rich Devices

The 7710 is the mobile communications company’s first device with PDA function. It has a screen and functions accessible by stylus, similar to other smartphone PDAs by competitors like PalmOne. The 7710 runs on Symbian OS and also features handwriting recognition. It is Bluetooth enabled.

The 6020 is equipped with a VGA camera and camcorder, XHTML browser, Java MIDP 2.0 for downloading other applications, e-mail and SyncML. The camera has 0.3 megapixel resolution and the camcorder can record clips of up to 50 seconds. The handset also features a push-to-talk button for voice messaging.

The 3230, which will be released in the first quarter of 2005, is aimed squarely at the consumer market with a 1.3 megapixel camera and the ability to capture an hour’s worth of video. Movie Director software to edit the video is also included, as are an XHTML browser, push-to-talk button, MMS, chat and instant messaging capabilities and multiplayer games over Bluetooth.

“This phone is packed with features and it is based on the series 60 platform. From a feature point of view, Nokia is driving down in the portfolio megapixel cameras, Bluetooth, MP3 player. If priced right this product could do very well. A shame it does not come out in time for Christmas,” Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi told TechNewsWorld.

The Market Broadens

Nokia will not be the only company increasing these types of offering.

“What we’re going to see going forward in 2005 is a real battleground of these advanced phone devices,” Gartenberg said, citing PalmOne and Microsoft and its partners as Nokia competitors. This will create a host of devices with different mixes of functionality.

“For consumers, the decision tree is very daunting,” he said. The key will be to decide what is most important and whether the device will be for business or home use and go on from there.

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