Nokia unveils new business phones
LONDON - The world's top cellphone maker, Nokia, unveiled two new models on Monday aimed at the business market dominated by the Blackberry, but Research in Motion Ltd shares rose because investors believe the maker of the popular handset is safe.
The new Nokia phones, meant to refresh the somewhat aging lineup of corporate offerings at the Finnish company, were widely expected after leaks on the Internet.
Nokia shares closed 2 percent lower in Helsinki at 16.57 euros, while RIM stock closed 5 percent higher at C$144.21
"This is not going to change anything," said Nomura analyst Richard Windsor. "They've got to do much more, they have to do a complete offering. The problem is they don't offer device independence and they don't have the embedded position that RIM does."
The new sliding model E66 and the E71, with full keyboard, both start shipping in July and will retail for around 350 euros ($538), excluding operator subsidies and local taxes.
Both phones will have 3.2 megapixel cameras and built-in GPS receivers for navigation. The Nokia E71 is 10 millimeters thick -- the thinnest phone with a full QWERTY keyboard in the world.
"The business market is becoming increasingly competitive and highly segmented, so these new products are critical new additions to Nokia's E series line up," said Geoff Blaber, an analyst at research firm CCS.
Over the last few months, Nokia's rivals, including Canada's RIM and Sony Ericsson, have introduced new models for business users, intensifying competition in the sector.
"We will see a swathe of new products from RIM, Palm and a number of Windows Mobile licensees in the coming quarters, so it was essential that Nokia strengthened its portfolio," CCS's Blaber said.
No Blackberry support
The new phones do not include Blackberry service, included on all of Nokia's previous corporate phones.
Analysts said it was not a major problem for Nokia, which has always offered a wide range of e-mails on its devices.
"We do see a number of organizations adopting a 'RIM plus one' strategy, but in such cases, they typically provide Blackberry for senior executives and some other device/e-mail platform for mainstream users," said Gartner analyst Nick Jones.
Also Nokia's Soren Petersen, who heads the phone portfolio, downplayed the fact Nokia will sell the phones without an option for Blackberry e-mail.
"I don't think its much of an issue. It's a client they need to develop," he told Reuters in an interview.
RIM was not immediately available to comment.
Nokia sells 40 percent of all phones sold globally, but the market for business users who look for fast access to their e-mails on the road is dominated by RIM.
Petersen said that because only a tiny portion of corporate e-mail accounts are used over mobile, it gives an opportunity for providers such as Nokia to attack RIM's dominant position.
"To me, the game is wide open. It's very early days," he said.
Nokia is also looking at developing e-mail devices for its usual consumers, where uptake could be much faster than at companies.
"Consumer e-mail will overtake corporate really fast, really fast," Petersen added.