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Wednesday, 02 September 2009 15:40

New phones, Facebook deal kicks off Nokia World event

Nokia unveiled three new handsets and gave details on its new notebook PC and tablet offerings as doors opened on its Nokia World event in Germany today.

The company announced a new version of its flagship N97 smartphone, the N97 mini, which is designed to broaden the appeal of the device. Slated to begin shipping in October, the phone features a 3.2-inch touch-screen and a fold-out QWERTY keyboard.

Building on the initial success of its Comes With Music service, Nokia also unveiled the X6 and X3 handsets which come bundled with the download service. Under Comes With Music, users can download and keep an unlimited number of songs. 

The X6 comes with an impressive 32GB of onboard storage, a 3.2-inch touch-screen and will retail for 450 Euros. The X3 meanwhile has an inbuilt FM radio and stereo speakers and has a list price of 115 Euros. Pricing in non-European markets is yet to be announced.

Nokia also gave more details on its previously announced N900 Maemo-powered internet tablet device. A cross between a smartphone and a small tablet, the device is aimed at early adopters who want to run multiple applications at the same time. It will retail for 500 Euros.

The handset giant is also using the event to showcase its latest foray into the mobile computing market. The Nokia Booklet 3G is a netbook-sized computer built around an Intel Atom processor and a 120GB hard drive. It runs the Microsoft Windows 7 operating system.

Nokia is pitching the device as a premium notebook PC with 12 hours of battery life. It is currently negotiating with a number of telecoms carriers to offer in on data plans in similar way to existing mobile phones.

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On the services front, Nokia also announced a partnership with social networking giant Facebook. Called Lifecasting with Ovi, the service is the first application of its type to let people publish their location along with their status updates directly to their Facebook page. It will first be available on the N97 Mini.

During his keynote address to the 2000 attendees at the Stuttgart event, Nokia president and chief executive Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo said the announcements were part of the company’s evolution from handset maker to a full-fledged mobile services company.

“We did not embrace services because we thought it would be an interesting side business,” he told the crowd. “It is critical for us. There is no turning back and we will not fail.”

Nokia executive vice president of markets, Anssi Vanjoki acknowledged the company had received criticism of its smart phone offerings but said the new products were a sign the company was dedicated to the category and determined to improve its market share.

With the ongoing development of the Maemo operating system, Nokia is showing how it intends to move away from its heavy reliance on the ageing Symbian OS. A Linux-based OS, Maemo has been used in previous Nokia tablets.

Maemo product planning director Janne Heikkinen said the operating system provided a better platform for web browsing and multi-tasking. The new version is the fourth incarnation of the technology with variants appearing about every 12 months.

Nokia World continues tomorrow. Check IT Wire for further updates.

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