The world’s top handset maker, Nokia, launched three new phone models on Monday, saying it hoped to sell “tens of millions” of its new slim 6131 camera phone.”We believe this will be one of the most sold mid-range phones in the world,” Kai Oistamo, head of Nokia’s Mobile Phones unit, told Reuters at the 3GSM trade show in Barcelona.
Nokia regained market share in 2005 with a spate of new handsets, but many of them were cheaper models aimed at emerging markets, and analysts have said it needs to fill out its mid-price range, partly to meet the challenge of Motorola’s sleek Razr model.
“They have torn up the design they had and come out with what the market and consumers are looking for. This phone will hit the sweetspot of the European market,” said Gartner analyst Ben Wood.
“We have worked on the mid-ranged phones extensively … we have completely renewed our mid-range portfolio in the last six months,” Nokia’s Oistamo said.
Oistamo said the company, which made one in three handsets sold last year, still aimed for a 40 percent market share, but declined to say when would this target be reached.
“It’s a very real goal and we are working toward this,” he said.
Nokia predicted a sharp increase in users of third-generation mobile networks, with Chief Executive Jorma Ollila saying the company would sell 40 million 3G phones in 2006, compared to the total Wideband-CDMA (WCDMA) market of just over 40 million in 2005.
The firm would also sell about 80 million handsets with music players this year, up from around 40 million in 2005, and more than 150 million models with a built-in FM radio, Ollila said.
“The amount of different phone models has increased and I believe with Oli-Pekka Kallasvuo taking the lead, it will increase further,” said eQ Bank analyst Jari Honko.
Kallasvuo, former head of Nokia’s Mobile Phones division, will take over as the group CEO from Ollila in June.
Nokia said the clamshell shaped 6131 would retail for around 275 euros ($326.9) excluding subsidies and value added taxes.
Smaller rival Sony Ericsson launched a slim 3G phone with a 2-megapixel camera, called the K610, which it said would be the smallest and lightest 3G phone on the market.
MOBILE GOING TO INTERNET
Nokia also unveiled the 6136 model, with a camera and technology allowing it to connect to wireless network hotspots, which Oistamo said would also retail for about 275 euros.
“I’m very happy about the UMA phone. I believe it’s in the operators’ interest,” said Opstock analyst Hannu Rauhala.
The Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) technology lets users make phone calls over the Internet, bypassing network operators.
“For instance in the United States, indoor coverage is very bad so it’s much easier for domestic carriers to build this kind of coverage,” Rauhala said.
Ollila said the company would also launch phones for HSDPA, an upgraded version of the WCDMA networks, later this year.
“This year we will have a number of handsets in the market place with HSDPA capabilities,” Ollila said, adding the firm would also launch more models capable of making Internet calls using WiMax wireless networks.
Nokia also launched a basic model, the 6070, which would have a retail price of about 135 euros.
Oistamo said all three phones would start shipping in the second quarter of the year.
Shares in Nokia dipped 0.1 percent to 14.99 euros by 1608