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Nokia, the world’s biggest maker of mobile phones, is to launch new multimedia handsets that the company hopes will help it steal a march in the market as it anticipates a merger of the telecoms industry with information technology, consumer electronics and broadcasting.
At the Nokia Mobility Conference in Barcelona, the Finnish handset maker unveiled new multimedia devices it says represent a leap from mobile phones to what are effectively handheld computers that can swap content with electronic equipment in the home and provide enhanced security in mobile e-mail.
The new Nokia N series handsets – N92, N71, N80 – allow users to watch and record live TV and exchange content such as music or photos with home electronics like PCs, audio equipment and printers.
The company is also introducing a new internet browsing tool called MiniMap as a feature of the N71 music phone. The tool is designed to enhance the internet access on a small display.
As part of the E series, Nokia is introducing new handsets – E60, E61, E70 – that allow users to send e-mails with attachments more securely than previously, which Nokia hopes will appeal to corporate customers.
So far, Nokia’s Enterprise Solutions unit has struggled to take off.
Anssi Vanjoki, head of Nokia’s Multimedia unit, said the new products signalled the company was moving away from the manufacture of traditional mobile phones to making handsets that have the features of a computer, such as an operating system that allows the downloading of additional applications.
“The boundaries of telecommunications, IT and consumer electronics are fading,” Mr Vanjoki said before the annual trade event.
“We don’t call these devices mobile phones. They are multimedia computers that people won’t buy [primarily] because you can use them to make calls.”
Nokia still generates the bulk of its revenues from the sales of low-end and medium-range mobile phones, but its multimedia unit is growing much faster than other business areas.
Jorma Ollila, chief executive, said he expected the market for the so-called convergence handsets to double to 100m units next year.
All the new handsets presented on Wednesday are due to be available by the middle of next year.