Nokia Launches Cheaper Smart Phones

Priced at $135 to attract new customers in emerging markets

Nokia Corp. on April 13 launched three less-expensive smart phones, including its first model expected to sell for under $135 -- in a strong move to grab new customers in emerging markets.

The world's largest mobile phone maker said it wants "to put better messaging and social networking tools in the hands of more people around the world at affordable prices."

The new Nokia C3, Nokia E5 and Nokia C6 handsets have full QWERTY keyboards, enable instant messaging and give access to e-mails. Their expected selling prices respectively are euro90, euro180 and euro220 before taxes and subsidies.

The handsets will be available during the second and third quarters of this year.

"Nokia's strategic focus is clearly on emerging markets now and taking higher feature devices to the masses and these three devices do that quite nicely," said Neil Mawston, analyst at Strategy Analytics in London.

Finland-based Nokia, which is increasingly turning to providing applications and services for handset users, said in December it will focus on the smart phone sector, including providing cheaper handsets in emerging markets.

Despite strong competition from Blackberry and iPhone, Nokia's market share in smart phones grew from 35% to 40% in the last quarter of 2009.

The cheapest of the new models, the C3, with an estimated price tag of euro90, includes a two megapixel camera, a 2.4 inch screen and will include access to Nokia's Ovi Mail and Ovi Chat that allow first-time users to set up e-mail and chat accounts straight from the device without the need for a computer.

It has WiFi connectivity and support for up to an 8GB memory card, allowing users to update their status and share pictures on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

"The C3 stands out the most at a very competitive price with a very effective feature set ... that goes squarely after the lower-tier mass market in India, Africa, China," Mawston said. "It's going to be one of their star devices over the next two quarters."

The Nokia C6, with an estimated price of euro220, has a 3.2-inch touch screen with full slide-out keyboard and a five megapixel camera featuring autofocus and flash.

The E5, expected to sell for some euro180, is targeted at corporate customers with numerous productivity applications available in Nokia's Ovi Store. It has direct access to over 90% of the world's corporate e-mails through Mail for Exchange and IBM Lotus Notes Traveler.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press

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