Nokia Unveils New Business Phones

The world’s top cellphone maker Nokia unveiled two new phone models aimed at corporate clients on Monday, revamping its somewhat aging offering to business customers.

The new Nokia phones—widely expected after leaks on the Internet—do not include Research in Motion’s (RIM) BlackBerry service, supported on all of Nokia’s previous corporate handsets.

Shares in Nokia closed 1.95 percent lower in Helsinki at 16.57 euros, while RIM stock was over four percent higher at C$142.61 as investors did not view Nokia’s new model threatening RIM’s position.

“This is not going to change anything,” said Nomura analyst Richard Windsor.

“They’ve got to do much more, they have to do a complete offering. The problem is they don’t offer device independence and they don’t have the embedded position that RIM does.”

The new sliding model E66, and the E71, with full keyboard, both start shipping in July and will retail for around 350 euros ($538), excluding operator subsidies and local taxes.

Analysts said it was not a major problem that Nokia, which has always offered a wide range of e-mails on its devices, did not offer BlackBerry e-mail on the new phones.

“We do see a number of organizations adopting a ‘RIM plus one’ strategy but in such cases they typically provide Blackberry for senior executives and some other device/email platform for mainstream users,” said Gartner analyst Nick Jones.

Models for corporate clients usually last longer in phone makers’ portfolios than the consumer-focused phones, but nine months have already passed since Nokia introduced the E51, its last phone model for corporate clients.

Nokia sells 40 percent of all phones sold globally, but the market for business users who look for fast access to their e-mails on the road is dominated by RIM’s BlackBerry devices and service.

“The business market is becoming increasingly competitive and highly segmented so these new products are critical new additions to Nokia’s E series line up,” said Geoff Blaber, an analyst at research firm CCS.

Since Nokia introduced the E51 model, rivals, including RIM and Sony Ericsson, have introduced new models for business users, intensifying competition in the sector.

“We will see a swathe of new products from RIM, Palm and a number of Windows Mobile licensees in the coming quarters so it was essential that Nokia strengthened its portfolio,” said CCS’s Blaber.

Both new Nokia phones will have 3.2 megapixel cameras and built-in GPS receivers for navigation. The Nokia E71 is 10 millimeters thick—the thinnest phone with a full QWERTY keyboard in the world, Nokia said.

“Users around the world, in general, have started to use more and more QWERTY devices,” Soren Petersen, a director at Nokia’s devices unit, told a news conference.

(Reporting by Tarmo Virki. Additional reporting by Agnieszka Flak in Helsinki and Wojtek Dabrowski in Toronto. Editing by Will Waterman and Quentin Brya.)