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Thu, Mar 14, 2002 - Page 21 News List

Nokia bets on six new cellphones

CEBIT The world's largest maker of handsets hopes new models with faster Internet access will revive slowing growth in the mobile-phone market

BLOOMBERG AND AP , HANOVER, GERMANY

A woman displays the latest Nokia 7650 mobile phone with an integrated camera and the 9210i communicator, right, at Cebit in Hanover Germany. About 8,000 exhibitors will present their products at Cebit, the world's largest computer fair, which will run through March 20.

PHOTO: REUTERS

Nokia Oyj, the biggest mobile-phone maker, introduced six mobile phone models with new features at the Cebit fair in Hanover, Germany, as part of a bid to revive demand.

The company also said it will unveil its so-called "third generation" model based on wideband code-division multiple access technology, on Sept. 26. Nokia briefly showed the phone at a press conference at Cebit.

"I know that there have been concerns about the availability of third-generation phones," said Matti Alahuhta, head of Nokia's handset division. "However, Nokia is convinced that we can deliver."

Nokia and rivals are counting on new models with faster Internet access to revive growth. Nokia has launched 20 models this year, compared with 14 in 2001. Sony Ericsson, a venture between Ericsson AB and Sony Corp, last week displayed its first six models.

Third-generation models will allow users to transmit data at 40 times current speeds. Still, some analysts and investors are concerned consumers may not warm to the services after Europe's phone companies spent US$100 billion on faster wireless licenses in 2000.

Going from current technology to third-generation technology "is an evolution that will take several years," Alahuhta said.

One of Nokia's new models, the 7210, has a color screen and an FM radio. It also supports Java programming language and features Multimedia Messaging Service, letting users swap pictures and sounds.

"I don't think you can ask much more from a device this small," Executive Vice President Anssi Vanjoki said.

The phone, which also supports General Packet Radio Service, allowing faster Internet access, is expected to start shipping in the third quarter.

Nokia also showcased five other models that are expected to start shipping in the second quarter, including two mass-market, or "expression category" phones.

The 3510 has GPRS, screen savers and polyphonic ring tones, while the 3410 can support downloading new applications, including three-dimensional animated screensavers.

The 6310i meanwhile is a version of its existing 6310 model that works on three radio bands, and the 9210i is a version of its existing "Communicator" model that supports GPRS. It also presented the 3315, a "basic category" phone for the Asia-Pacific market.

The company, meanwhile, projected that first-quarter net sales will dip, though profit was expected to rise slightly.

"Net sales for the first quarter are expected to be slightly lower than anticipated, but higher than expected profitability is being driven by Nokia's core strengths,'' the world's largest cell phone maker said in a news release.

"Earnings per share is estimated to be at the upper end or even slightly above the earlier indicated range of 0.15 euros to 0.17 euros [US$0.13 to US$0.15] for the first quarter,'' Nokia said.

Net sales had been predicted to decline by 6 percent to 10 percent, and the company did not give a new projection.

In line with previous forecasts, Nokia said its mobile phones sales from January to March would be down 3 percent to 7 percent on the year, while network operations would fall by 25 percent in comparison to the same period last year.

Chief Financial Officer Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo said the network shortfall was mainly caused by sluggish sales in China and Europe.

Nokia's net profit last year was 2.2 billion euros (US$1.9 billion), down 44 percent from 3.9 billion euros in 2000, on net sales of 31.1 billion euros (US$27.6 billion), a 3 percent increase.

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