While Apple is garnering all the publicity (and a lot of sales) with its iconic iPhone, market leader Nokia has steadily continued development of newer smart phones to maintain its supremacy in the segment. Yesterday, it expanded its N-series mobile device line with two new devices and unveiled plans to bring its forthcoming N96 to the North American market.
One of the new phones, the Nokia N85, is built for mobile entertainment and gaming, the company said. It features a slider form factor and includes a 2.6-inch OLED screen, a built-in FM transmitter and a 5-megapixel camera. With the transmitter, users can play files wirelessly through a car or home stereo. It also comes pre-loaded with N-Gage made-for-mobile gaming titles.
The N85 also includes an 8-GB microSD card to provide up to 30 hours of music playback. It will be priced at approximately $660 and is slated for availability in October.
The other new device, the Nokia N79, is billed by the company as "a technology powerhouse" and offers similar features to the N85. The candy bar-style form factor includes integrated navigation, music playback with an FM transmitter, high-speed connectivity, a 5-megapixel camera and pre-loaded N-Gage games.
The N79 comes with Xpress-on smart covers, giving users several options when it comes to the color of their phones. It is also expected to ship in October for approximately $515.
Both phones support Wi-Fi and high-speed 3.5G HSDPA connectivity.
Seeing the double-digit growth of the PC-like handsets, Nokia and other phone makers are eager to take advantage and are pushing devices with larger memories, bigger screens, and other unique features, such as touch screen. The forthcoming N96 will feature a touch screen, the first Nokia phone to have one, and 16 GB of memory.
Research firm Gartner estimates the booming market for smart phones increased 29 per cent to 32.2 million units, or about 11 per cent of total units sold, in the first quarter this year, according to its latest figures.
Nokia had a 45 per cent share of the market, while BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Ltd. was the second-biggest smart-phone vendor, with 13.4 per cent, followed by Apple Inc. with a 5.3 per cent share.
Asian rivals Samsung Electronics Co., LG Electronics Inc. and High Tech Computer Corp. are trying to gain ground in the market. Apple Inc. recently launched its updated 3G iPhone, a device that sold more than a million units during the first three days. (See: Apple, AT&T sell 1 million new iPhones in 3 days; users download 10 million applications)
Sony Ericsson, a joint venture between Sony Corp. of Japan and Ericsson of Sweden, is set to launch its XPERIA X1 in the second half - a high-end device that runs on Microsoft's Windows Mobile operating system. All of these phones are aimed at users looking to do more on their phones than making calls.
Nokia also said users downloaded 90 million applications in the past two years, a signal it aims to fight for a big chunk of the lucrative high-end mobile-phone industry and burgeoning content and services market.
"Nokia had 90 million application downloads during the past two years," said Nokia spokesman Kari Tuutti. "Consumer awareness is on the rise, and applications will play an increasingly important role in the future."
He said Nokia already has some 150 million mobiles in the market using the S60 mobile phone platform, adding over 10,000 applications exist for these devices.
Apple earlier this month, said it had 60 million downloads from its online software site called App Store in its first month. Apple said most of the applications were free, but added it sold $1 million in applications each day.
Nokia's Tuutti said many of its application downloads are free, but declined to give further details.