Nokia plays up new handsets, plays down 3G


16 Jun 2003

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HELSINKI: Nokia today launched two new handsets to the press along with a number of phone accessories. In an event which was curiously muted about the topic of 3G, the company mounted a robust defence of its vision of mobile handsets becoming multimedia devices.

With rumours of new handsets, speculation centred around the possibility of the Finnish company unveiling a second 3G phone. However, 3G was given little mention at the event, except for the announcement that the company’s first 3G handset, the 6650, had passed all in-house testing and was available for sale in Europe.

What it did announce was the 6600 (pictured), a premium-end handset. The phone features a novel design with a large colour screen and integrated camera. Running a Series 60 operating system, it features plenty of PDA type functionality along with video recording, a digital zoom, MMS and Bluetooth. The 6600 is expected to be launched later this year and will retail at €500 before network subsidies.

The other handset to launch, the 3100 is positioned at the consumer end of the market. It features a colour display, MMS and integrated FM radio. The phone can be customised by users using changeable covers. A sure signal of its target audience is the fact that it glows in the dark.

Also launched at the event were a new clip-on camera for newer models such as the 3100, a wireless headset and radio headset.

Nokia is clearly banking on multimedia for the future. While the latest sales figures may indicate the company is shifting MMS enabled units, whether the technology is being used or not is another question. The company did point out that there were now 3.3 million MMS users in Europe, i.e. people with MMS enabled phones. However when questioned on how many MMS messages are being sent, Nokia executives said that they did not have that data. While multimedia may be good to Nokia, it isn’t clear yet whether the sale of new handsets is translating to a jump in data traffic for the networks.

By Dick O’Brien