Saturday, June 2, 2007

Nokia Launches Three New Phones

Beyond the fashionable surface attributes of the Nokia 8600 Luna, the new handset offers several useful features, including a micro-USB port that enables charging, audio, and data connectivity through one connection. In addition, the Nokia 8600 Luna offers quad-band GSM, EDGE, GPRS, and HSCSD, as well as a 2-megapixel camera.

Mobile phone Nokia maker added a moon goddess, a slider, and a classic to its lineup on Thursday. One model, the 8600 Luna, is a high-priced, stainless-steel-and-glass "fashion phone," and the other two, the 6500 classic and the 6500 slide, are intended for the midrange of the market.

Using language more often employed to sell a hot new sports car, Nokia describes the 8600 Luna as having a "mysterious allure." Beneath a semi-opaque smoked glass case, "a gentle keypad illumination pulsates" like a "heartbeat" as this "organic, virtually alive form" waits for a call.

Nokia Senior Vice President Heikki Norta said that the company had an "obsession" for every detail in this device. "We took painstaking effort to ensure that the experience delivered by every surface -- from the smoothness of glass against the face to the warmth of the stainless steel in the palm to the superior tactile feedback of the keypad -- would surpass any and all expectation."

Nokia's Fashion Statement

Beyond the surface attributes that Nokia compares favorably to its namesake, the Roman goddess of moonlight, the Luna offers several useful features, including a micro-USB port that enables charging, audio, and data connectivity through one connection. There is support for quad-band GSM, EDGE, GPRS, and HSCSD, as well as video-recording capabilities, a music player, and a 2-megapixel camera.

The cell phone is "the most personal of personal technologies," said Avi Greengart, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis. "You carry it with you all the time, so manufacturers can differentiate it primarily on the basis of fashion." He compared the mobile world to the car industry, where, once users could assume all cars had the ability to provide basic transportation, differences emerged and purchase decisions were often driven on the basis of style.

"Nokia has done extraordinarily well with the fashion phone," he noted, "especially in Asia." Greengart said that the U.S. market, in contrast, is dominated by the carriers, and the carriers don't generally offer fashion phones.

Greengart noted that the Luna is the successor to Nokia's 8800 series, which has sold "well over a million units." In contrast, he said that Motorola started with the fashionable Razr and "turned it into a volume play" by lowering the price. But now, he suggested, Motorola is left "with no fashion phone" because the Razr price is so low and the model is so widely accessible.

Classic and Slider Phones

The other two new Nokia phones, the 6500 classic and 6500 slide, are being touted by Nokia as having been created "with maximum usability in mind." They feature large keys, "ergonomically correct dimensions and surfaces," and WCDMA technology.

The 6500 classic offers a seamless case of anodized aluminum, dual-band 3G for fast connectivity, quad-band GSM for roaming worldwide, a 2-megapixel camera with dual LED flash, a music player, a micro-USB connector, and 1 GB of memory.

In the 6500 slide, a 3.2-megapixel camera is equipped with Carl Zeiss optics, dual LED flash, and 8x digital zoom. A TV-out jack enables images or video to be seen on any TV set with RCA inputs.

The 8600 Luna is expected to go on sale in the second quarter for 700 euros (or about $940), with the 6500 slide and classic following in the third quarter. The classic will be about 320 euros ($430) and the slider about 370 euros ($500).


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