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DRM delayed Nokia's 'iPod' phone

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Nokia's music N91 smartphone - it's first phone with a hard disk - has been held up because of DRM issues, the company confirmed.

Nokia's Pekka Pohjakallio told us last week in Barcelona that adding Windows DRM was the primary cause of the slip. That confirms what Nokia executives said when the delay was acknowledged last Fall.

Nokia had originally hoped to ship the N91, which was announced back in April, by Christmas. Instead, it promoted the N70, an incremental improvement over the 6680 series, as its Xmas bait.

The N91 is due by the end of Q1. It can't have escaped your notice that we're already more than halfway through Q1.

Nokia has been bundling Symtella - a Symbian port of the Gnutella P2P client - with media units Stateside, and last year made much of this Wi-Fi phone's sharing capabilities. It seems to have lost its fervour, with Pohjakallio talking guardedly about sharing N91 playlists by Bluetooth or MMS.

Nokia says it shipped 46.5m music phones last year, and expects to ship $80m in 2006. But only the hefty N91, with its dedicated music controls, 4GB hard drive, and a real headphone jack, and the slimmer, mid-market 3250, look like they're able to give the ever-shrinking iPod a run for its money.

Sony Ericsson unveiled its best Walkman phone yet at 3GSM last week, and you can read our first impressions here. The W950 isn't out until Q3, however. ®

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