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Nokia aims to test Apple's dominance

The cellphone maker unveils products and services to vie with the iPhone and iPod.

August 30, 2007|From the Associated Press

HELSINKI, FINLAND — Nokia Corp. unveiled new services and cellphones Wednesday that customers could use to download music and play games, a bid by the world's largest mobile phone maker to challenge Apple Inc.'s higher-end iPhone, as well as iTunes and the iPod.

The move by Nokia, whose basic handsets give it a strong position in emerging markets, is the latest recognition that high-end markets require handsets with photo, music and video capabilities and quick access to the Internet.

One of Nokia's new phones can hold as many as 6,000 songs. Other new gadgets include headphones, docking stations and speakers.

Nokia said it would focus its new Web services on a site known as Ovi -- Finnish for "door" -- that will include an online music store "with millions of tracks from major labels."

With the new services, consumers will be able to transfer music from PCs to compatible Nokia devices as well as play and download games from the N-Gage service on tens of millions of existing Nokia devices, the Finnish company said.

"The industry is converging toward Internet-driven experiences, and Ovi represents Nokia's vision in combining the Internet and mobility," Chief Executive Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo said.

Nokia's new top-range models, some including 5-megapixel cameras, Carl Zeiss optics and as much as 8 gigabytes of memory, cost from $300 to $750.

Nokia bought Loudeye Corp., a leading provider of digital media distribution services, for $60 million last year to expand its digital music offerings. Now it has completed deals with the four major music labels -- Vivendi's Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group Inc., EMI Group and Sony BMG Music Entertainment, a joint venture of Sony Corp. and Bertelsmann. The Nokia Music Store will open this fall in Europe and later in Asia, the company said.

Apple's iTunes store is the leading online music retailer, and its iPod is the most popular digital media player. The company in June entered Nokia's territory in releasing the iPhone, which combines a cellphone, media player and wireless Internet device.

Nokia's announcement emphasized the new items' sleek design and slim size -- one phone is less than 10 millimeters thick -- another apparent attempt to counterbalance Apple and its renown for design.

Last week, Nokia and Microsoft Corp. announced that access to some of the software maker's most popular Web services, such as Hotmail and Windows Live Messenger, would come built into some Nokia phone models.

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