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Tuesday, March 22, 2005
Nokia plans new phones for U.S. market

Nokia said on Monday it was introducing three new phones for the United States this year in a bid to increase its share of that market.

The phones are based on CDMA, a wireless technology used by Verizon Wireless and Sprint , the second- and third-biggest U.S. mobile service providers, respectively. Nokia said recently it hopes to sell new phone to these companies.

Virgin Mobile USA, a venture of Sprint and Virgin, plans to sell one of the new phones, but Nokia did not provide information about Verizon Wireless's or Sprint's plans.

The phone maker said it also hopes to sell the latest devices in Mexico, Brazil and Argentina.

But the key focus will likely be the U.S. market where the Finnish phone maker trails behind Motorola Inc. Nokia has had less success in the United States than in rest of the world due to its focus on GSM, the world's dominant standard.

While Cingular Wireless, the biggest U.S. provider, and T-Mobile USA , the No. 4 U.S. service, both use GSM, other big rivals favor CDMA.

Motorola is also touting three new GSM camera phones at the CTIA wireless exhibit where Nokia is showing its new phones. Other rivals, including Samsung Electronics, also plan to show phones to prospective U.S. customers.

Nokia said it plans in the fourth quarter to begin selling its new 6155i CDMA phone, which has a fold-over cover and a built-in zoom lens camera and supports streaming video, maps and other graphical applications.

Nokia, which has been most successful at selling candy bar shape phones, lost some ground last year to rivals such as Motorola and Samsung as these companies were ahead of it with the popular fold-over phones.

Its 3155 CDMA phone, which it also expects to go on sale in the fourth quarter, also has a folding cover and extra memory for storing pictures as well as an integrated FM radio. It can also be hooked to a computer to transfer information such as phone numbers and addresses to desktop software.

Nokia described the 6155i and the 3155 phones as middle tier devices, indicating a price range of $100 to $250.

The 2115i phone would be the most basic and cheaply priced of the CDMA range, with features including a choice of colors for the cover, voice-activated dialing and a built-in flashlight. This phone, which Virgin Mobile plans to use, will likely go on sale for less than $100 in the second quarter.

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