Nokia announced three new smartphones aiming at helping the world?s largest mobile phone manufacturer to capture a bigger slice of the lucrative corporate market.

The new phones, dubbed the E60, E61 and E70, will be available in the first quarter next year and are expected to sell for between $420 and $540. ?They represent the first generation of the E-series family which will be expanded over time,? said Mary McDowell, head of the Nokia?s US-based business handheld unit.

They are designed to complement Nokia?s existing Communicator series including the 9300 and 9500 which have sold more than 1m units over the past year.

Each targets a particular section of the corporate market while supporting both voice and data services including mobile ?push? email considered by many to be the ?killer? corporate data application.

For example the E60 is designed primarily for voice communications including VoIP (Voice over Internet protocol) while the E70 comes with a full butterfly-style fold-out keyboard for mobile email.

The E61, which comes with a built-in mini ?Qwerty? keyboard, is likely to be viewed as an alternative to Research in Motion?s iconic BlackBerry devices that have become very popular with corporate executives and mobile professionals.

All three are designed to work with push email services including RIM?s BlackBerry Connect service as well as Nokia?s own Business Center, which it launched last month to make mobile email available on a wider range of phones. They will also support mobile e-mail from Visto Mobile, Seven and Good Technology.

RIM?s BlackBerry devices currently dominate the business market for push email, although others including Motorola, Palm and Microsoft have all made recent important announcements.

Ms McDowell believes Nokia can tap into huge pent-up demand for mobile email services. Of the estimated 650m corporate email inboxes, only 8m can currently be accessed using mobile devices, according to Nokia.

The E-series phones are designed to work on a wide range of GSM frequencies and 3G networks and include a range of other technologies including Wi-Fi wireless networking capabilities and Bluetooth short-range radio technology.

?When we carefully considered the requirements of our customers when developing these devices, two clear new trends emerged,? said Niklas Savander, senior vice president of Nokia?s business device unit. ?The need for IT departments? to have a secure and manageable platform, and the need for devices to support a variety of employee preferences and different working styles.?

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