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Nokia drops smartphone clues

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Nokia will ship a new smartphone in the final quarter of the calendar year, and it's dropped heavy hints that splashy multimedia phones like the 9210 will form the basis of its recovery into 2002.

Or as Nokia's CEO Jorma Ollila put it, he's banking on multimedia messaging, Java and Symbian and new form factors to "accelerate next wave of handset replacement cycle".

A statement accompanying yesterday's financials conference call reiterated the message:-

"In a sense, a lot of what we envisage for the future is previewed in the new [Symbian] communicator series with its high-speed data access, color screen, wireless imaging and both WAP and HTML connection to the Internet."

Imaging takes unusual prominence there. Most recently Nokia and Symbian have been drumming up streaming rather than static media. Nokia is shipping a free digital camera with the first batch of the 9210 communicator and from the reports we've received, what it loses in low image quality it gains in convenience.

Nokia said Java will become ubiquitous: with 50 million handsets supporting the platform across the board by the end of 2002, and 100 million by the end of 2003.

Nokia's new Symbian phone is based on the initial Crystal platform, which didn't do packet data. And the conspicuously missing from the 9210 - announced as far back as November - is GPRS and Bluetooth support.

But Symbian's Pearl platform - for devices that have more of a phone than a PDA ancestry - supports packet data from the get-go. So reading the runes then, a Pearl phone, perhaps with some fancy imaging integrated, looks likely to take its place in the 8000 series.

Back to announced products and hard figures [yawn - ed.], Nokia will have GPRS phones ready for the US market, and was confident that it would be able to book real revenue for 3G equipment next year. That was yesterday, though, and after Chris Gent's announcement today that Vodaphone would not activate 3G services until 2003, it looks even more optimistic.

Nokia trumpeted its WCDMA patent arsenal (more than anyone else) and boasted that all but 5 of 80-odd networks had chosen WCDMA. We suspect Nokia throws stuff like that it in simply to wind-up the Qualcomm headbangers. ®

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