Not to be outdone by Motorola Nokia the world’s biggest mobile phone maker, has unveiled three new multimedia N-series handsets at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show, including a thin flip handset in the N7x range of phones which sell in large volumes.

The new N76 is 13.7 millimeters thick and will be available in the first quarter of 2007 before subsidies from operators or local taxes, Nokia said.

The initial models in the N-Series multimedia devices were criticized for their bulk. The N76 is designed around digital music playing, Internet browsing and photo blogging straight from the phone’s 2 megapixel camera.

Nokia’s phone launches are important because the company is the leader in the 1 billion-units-a-year handset market, with a global market share of around 35 percent.

Nokia has also brought its Internet Tablets under the umbrella of its NSeries, which, until now, only included smartphones. (The cell phone giant likes to refer to all of these devices as multimedia computers because of their multi-functionality.)

As with the 770, the N800 eschews any sort of cellular-wireless connectivity for Wi-Fi 802.11b/g. This thing is definitely more PDA than smartphone. It is a handheld, however, that’s designed for messaging, Web access, and (VoIP) calling from a hot spot or Wi-Fi connection in the home or office. You can also leverage a wireless hookup to a Bluetooth-enabled phone to connect to the Internet.

Nokia says the N800 is faster than its predecessor, adds a camera and full-screen finger QWERTY keyboard, and runs on an upgrade to the company’s Internet Tablet operating system, among other enhancements.

In addition to Google’s gTalk for VoIP calling, available with the previous model, Nokia has struck a deal to enable Skype service on the N800 as well.

Nokia said it sold almost 40 million multimedia phones last year. It said the total market for these advanced phones, also called converged devices, was 90 million units in 2006, and is expected to grow to 250 million units in 2008. Last April, it had forecast the market would total 100 million in 2006.

Nokia said it sold nearly 70 million music phones in 2006. It said last year it aimed to sell 80 million music phones.

Nokia also announced a slimmer version of its N93 phone which doubles as a digital video camera, called the N93i. It will be available for 600 euros in the first quarter of 2007. It is 25 millimeters thick, down from 28.2 millimeters for the N93.

The Finnish company also unveiled a new Internet tablet, using the Linux operating system. Building on Nokia’s first Internet tablet, called the 770 Internet Tablet, the N800 introduces faster performance, a full-screen finger qwerty keyboard and an integrated Web camera.

The device, which does not need to go through time-consuming network-approval procedures from mobile telecoms operators because it uses a Wi-Fi short-range wireless Internet connection, will be on sale immediately in the United States and in Australia by April 2007.



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