Nokia unveils GPRS handsets

Nokia chose the press-day preview of the CeBIT technology show to announce what its Executive Vice President Anssi Vanjoki [CQ] claimed on Wednesday will be the "biggest selling phone of 2001," the Nokia 3330, and two other new handsets with support for GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) packet data that will ship in the third and fourth quarters of this year.

The first of Nokia's GPRS handsets to market, the Nokia 8310, will be available in 169 different color combinations, said Vanjoki, making it "by far the most colorful and sexiest phone around." For when there is no one around to talk to, it even includes an FM radio.

The other GPRS handset, the Nokia 6310, is aimed at business users. It will include support for the Bluetooth personal area networking technology and SyncML, a protocol designed to simplify synchronization of disparate contacts databases, but won't be available until the fourth quarter of this year.

Last year Nokia announced a handset for the youth market, the Nokia 3310. At the time it was criticized for its lack of support for WAP (Wireless Application Protocol). However, that was unimportant, said Vanjoki, because it was not then time for WAP.

The handset he tipped as this year's best-seller, the 3330, does support WAP, and will include integrated support for Club Nokia, the manufacturer's own online portal, and other features including text chat, downloadable games and animated screensavers. Nokia was among the first manufacturers to build simple games into its handsets, and the ubiquity of its handsets has helped create a thriving market for third-party services selling new ring-tones and phone icons, images which are displayed on the screen of the phone whenever it is not in use.

Nokia expects that by 2006, over one-third of mobile telecommunications service revenue will come from non-voice services. In addition to chat services, icons and ring-tones, it also sees music and streaming media services as a future hit -- and with its eye on this market, announced two new music products here.

Future shipments of the company's 9210 Communicator, a combined phone and PDA in a clamshell format, will include a version of Real Networks Inc.'s RealPlayer software, which will play video and audio files. Nokia has also jumped on the MP3 bandwagon, with a music player which can be attached to its 3310, 3330 and 8850 phones, or used alone. It will play files in the MP3 format, and also the AAC format which includes support for digital rights management. In a new twist, the device also includes an FM radio for when users tire of their downloaded files.

Nokia, in Espoo, Finland, is at +358-9-5113-8193, or at http://www.nokia.com/.

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