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Mobile phone company Nokia has delayed the launch of its N91 music phone until the first quarter of 2006.

Nokia had originally planned to get the N91 onto the market during the last quarter of this year, in time for the Christmas and end-of-year holiday seasons. However the company said it wanted to ensure that the phone, holding thousands of songs, would work on the widest range of music platforms and be a true “jukebox” mobile phone.

Reuters quoted Jonas Geust, vice president of music in Nokia’s Multimedia division, “what we basically decided is that we will postpone it a few weeks, push it out to Q1 and do this Microsoft DRM implementation solidly. That’s how we want to ensure that we get a great user experience already from launch.”

Nokia said it wanted consumers to be free to choose how to get their music — from CDs copied to a PC, directly from Internet stores, or from their mobile network operator — and be able to harmonize their collections at the click of a button. That would mean they are not locked into a single channel, such as Apple’s iTunes.

The N91 multimedia phone’s 4-gigabyte hard drive stores up to 3,000 songs, using advanced coding systems to minimize space needed. The phone will also run on high-speed 3G and wireless LAN networks.

Geust declined to give Nokia’s sales expectations or say which telecoms firms were keen to offer the N91 to their subscribers.

“What we can say is there is great interest from the big, big operators and we are actively working on integrating their preferred music services onto the devices,” he said.

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