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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Nokia Announces Three Smartphones

It was in Barcelona four years ago that Nokia announced its first smartphone, the Nokia 7650. The Finnish giant used the same stage Wednesday to announce three new multimedia handsets, including one for digital TV.

The TV handset, the N92, is the world's first handset for the digital video broadcast-handheld standard (DVB-H), Nokia said. The standard allows live TV signals to mobile handsets on spectrum separate from the cellular network. There have been more than three dozen DVB-H trials around the world and operators in Italy and Malaysia have announced plans to launch service in 2006.

The N92 is expected to go on sale initially in Europe, Africa and Asia in mid-2006. Besides TV on a 2.8-inch screen, it is envisioned to be a music device capable of playing up to 1,500 songs with a 2 GB memory card, and also has a 2-megapixel camera. It can replay TV shows in 30-second bursts and record programs.

In the United States both Crown Castle and Qualcomm intend to have broadcast TV to handsets next year. Crown Castle plans on using the DVB-H standard, while Qualcomm has its own network using its MediaFLO technology. TV to handsets has been launched in Korea using another standard.

In addition to the N92 TV handset, Nokia's multimedia general manager, Anssi Vanjoki, announced the N71 music device that also has the company's new customizable Web browser, and the N80 "plug-and-play" home entertainment handset and controller.

Vanjoki said the N80 is designed to create networks with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, infrared and USB 2.0 connectivity. The handset is a quad-band world phone that includes U.S. GSM and W-CDMA frequencies as well as European frequencies and is expected to ship in the first quarter of 2006. It has a 3-megapixel camera and FM radio.

Vanjoki said the N80 is based on interoperability standards under the Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) umbrella as well as the Digital Living Network Alliance. Intel and Microsoft are cooperating in the interoperability effort, he said.

The N71, also due in the first quarter, is a clamshell device with a new browser using Nokia's "Minimap" features that creates kind of a "screen-within-a-screen" window to show users where the browser is located on a Web page. The browser supports "real simple syndication" (RSS). The handset has a slot for a 2 GB mini-SD card and has a 2-megapixel camera. It has radios for GSM 900/1800/1900 GHz and W-CDMA at 2100 GHz. The N71 also has a customizable multimedia key that users can set to launch any application they want, such as music, video or e-mail. It also has a five-band equalizer and Nokia CEO and President Jorma Ollila said in a keynote address that Nokia has updated its forecast for smart phones. It now expects to ship 100 million of such "convergent devices" in 2006, double this year's number. That includes seven Series 60 3rd Edition handsets planned for the first quarter.

Ollila reiterated Nokia's earlier guidance that the manufacturer will sell 100 cameraphones this year and that more than half of all Nokia devices now are capable of playing music. Nokia will ship 40 million music phones in 2006, he said, adding that half of all its handsets in 2006 will be built for W-CDMA networks.

In a separate developers' conference Tuesday, a Sony Pictures official discussed plans to put full-length motion pictures on memory cards that can be viewed on a mobile phone.

Jason Wells, vice president of mobile for Sony Pictures Digital, said Sony and Nokia are in discussion about bundling the movie cards with handsets for sale in retail stores.

Wells, who is based in Culver City, Calif., said he watched two movies on a Nokia handset on his flight to Barcelona on one battery charge. The movie player allows users to pause a show and then resume it in the same place.

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