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Next year? Bah

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Nokia's first push into touch-control, the 5800 XpressMusic, won't be available in major markets until next year, including both the USA and UK.

The handset, which is being described as Nokia's reply to the iPhone, will be launched in India, Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Russia and Spain in 2008. According to Reuters, the rest of us will have to wait until the new year to get our greasy paws on it.

While lauded as an iPhone competitor, thanks to the touch-screen interface and music-centricity, in reality the 5800 is more of a niche handset. Nokia has made clear that next year it'll be launching a higher-end touch-driven device to better compete with Apple.

But missing Christmas is a serious slip - November and December are the most important periods for handset sales by a considerable margin, particularly in the consumer-specific market the 5800 is being aimed at, so it's hard to believe that this schedule is by design.

Reuters reports Nokia blaming the delays on network-specific customisation, but Nokia has never shied from selling vanilla handsets before. Most operators dash to have their customised versions out within weeks of the vanilla launch, and often don't make it; so this delay is more likely attributable to production problems, or some reluctance by operators to offer a decent subsidy on a handset that comes with a music service that could compete with their own. ®

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