Nokia 'Tube' seen as iPhone challenger

Device has touchscreen, Symbian based

Nokia Corp. has begun publicly discussing what some are calling the cell phone maker's biggest product response yet to the Apple iPhone -- a device code-named Tube.

In an interview today, Nokia spokesman Kasey Farrar refused to discuss Tube, but said a device, due in the second half of the year, will be the first phone with a touch-based interface on the most recent Symbian operating system, called the S60. Nokia has already made touch-based wireless devices running on Linux.

According to reports, Forum Nokia Vice President Tom Libretto, speaking yesterday at the Evans Data Developer Relations Conference in Redwood City, Calif., said the proposed phone, code-named Tube, will support Java and allow photos to be uploaded.

But the Nokia spokesman would only confirm that Libretto appeared at the event and would not provide further details about what Libretto said.

Both Libretto and Farrar compared Apple's iPhone sales of 4 million through January against the number of phones Nokia sold globally last year. In 2007, Nokia sold 60 million converged devices, in which voice and other functionality, such as a camera or MP3 player, are combined, with a total sales of 437 million wireless devices, Farrar said.

Apple spokesman Simon Pope today confirmed that Apple expects to sell 10 million iPhones this year.

Nokia's sales are overwhelmingly outside the U.S., however, according to analysts. Globally, Nokia has a 53% market share for wireless devices, Farrar said.

Regarding the challenge iPhone has given Nokia and other device makers, Farrar said that the "iPhone has not been a headache at all for us, and it actually validates our current strategy with converged devices in our N and E series."

Correction: This article has been changed since it was first posted to correct information attributed to a Nokia spokesman. The spokesman said he would not discuss a device code-named Tube. The article also eliminates references to N and E devices as touch-based Nokia devices.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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