Nokia bets on new smartphones for recovery
HELSINKI (Reuters) - Nokia, the world's biggest cellphone maker by volume, will introduce new smartphone models next week at its annual media and industry event, aiming to assure investors the company is on track to recovery.
Nokia, whose profits and share price have dived in the last few years, is now betting on the renewal of its line of smartphones, which could save the career of embattled CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo.
The cellphone maker will unveil its new flagship model E7, which comes with a large touchscreen and full keyboard, at the show in London, two sources with direct knowledge of Nokia's plans told Reuters.
Nokia will also introduce to the public its new N8 model, which is the first phone to use the new Symbian 3 software, along with other new smartphones, the sources said.
The N8 -- unveiled in April and due to go on sale later this month -- stands out among its rivals for its 12 megapixel camera but has a slower processor than Samsung's top model Galaxy S and the latest iPhone.
"As the N8 starts shipping and other devices are unveiled, Nokia will be hoping that it can lay the foundation stones for its recovery given the onslaught of competitive products currently hitting the market," said Ben Wood, director of research at CCS Insight.
"It has made some big commitments on fixing Symbian and its first flagship product using the refreshed Symbian operating system. Failure is not an option," Wood said.
Nokia's Symbian operating system has yet to attract a large number of software developers interested in creating compatible applications, a key selling point for high-end cellphones.
HAVE THEY FIXED IT?
Nokia controls 40 percent of the smartphone market with its Symbian software but has lost its leading position among the most expensive models to easier-to-use phones from Apple and Research in Motion.
Nokia's failure to roll-out successful high-end cellphones, which have fatter margins, has hit the company's profits and share price hard over the last few years. Its stock has dropped to roughly a third from mid-2007 when the iPhone went on sale.
Last year, Apple surpassed Nokia as the handset maker generating the largest total profit, despite selling only one iPhone for every 13 phones Nokia sells.
CEO Kallasvuo, whom industry sources say Nokia is looking to replace, has promised the usability of Nokia's Symbian smartphones would not be an issue by the end of this year.
He will make the keynote speech at the London show on Sept 14 at 9 a.m. (4 a.m. EDT).
"Everyone will be very curious about the Symbian 3 user interface," said analyst Francisco Jeronimo from IDC.
"We will probably see good designs with a focus on touchscreen at very competitive prices, but the main question is: Have they finally fixed the user interface?"
(Reporting by Tarmo Virki; Editing by Karen Foster)