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6/2/2009
12:47 PM
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Nokia Starts Shipping N97

Nokia's flagship handset is already shipping in more than 75 countries but it will be facing stiff competition from popular handsets by Apple, Palm, HTC, and others.

Nokia N97
(click image for larger view)
Nokia N97

Nokia is kicking off the smartphone summer blockbuster season by shipping its touch-screen N97 in more than 75 countries.

The N97 is the company's first high-end touch-screen smartphone, and the 3.5-inch screen can be personalized with widgets that give users access to Web services like Facebook and RSS feeds. The world's largest cell phone manufacturer has high hopes for the smartphone, and it wants to see similar sales figures to the N95, which has sold more than 10 million units.

The handset also packs a full slide-out QWERTY keyboard for composing messages, and the screen can tilt up for a better multimedia viewing experience. The N97 also has all the features one expects from a high-end smartphone, including Wi-Fi, GPS, 3G, Bluetooth, a Flash-capable browser, a 5-megapixel camera, and 32 GB of internal storage.

"The Nokia N97 is an important step towards our vision of delivering a highly personalized Internet experience," Jonas Geust, VP of Nokia's N series, said in a statement. "Fueled by a multitude of music, maps, games, media, and applications via Ovi, the Nokia N97 transforms the Internet into an experience that's completely tailored to the tastes and interests of its owners."

The handset will likely be popular around the world, but it may have a tough time gaining traction in the U.S. market because of its price tag and the competition. No U.S. carrier will be subsidizing the N97, which means customers can only buy it unlocked for about $699. By contrast, handsets like the iPhone 3G and BlackBerry Storm cost less than $200 with a new service contract.

Additionally, a slate of popular smartphones that could deflect attention away from the N97 will soon be released. Palm will be releasing its highly anticipated Pre in less than a week, Apple is expected to announce a new iPhone next week at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference, HTC's updated Touch handsets will be rolling out soon, and Research In Motion undoubtedly will update its BlackBerry lineup.


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