Nokia goes 3G in a big way with new phones, wireless keyboard

by Guy Kewney | posted on 14 June 2004

Nokia organises its own "international conferences" these days, by holding its marketing event in public in two cities simultaneously - Helsinki and Singapore. It works for all the big corporates like Intel and Microsoft with IDF and TechEd, and it provides an opportunity for product announcements which would otherwise pass with little fuss. Like, a wireless keyboard?

Guy Kewney

So the announcement of a 3G phone which works on EDGE as well as WCDMA is not just another phone, but "a breakthrough in mobile communications with the introduction of the Nokia 6630, the world's first mobile phone to combine the benefits of 3G, EDGE and the leading smartphone platform Series 60."

Can't argue with that claim; the 6630 may (or may not) be the first phone with both WCDMA and EDGE - but it definitely is the first dual mode phone based on Nokia's own Series 60 variant of Symbian. It may also be one of the smallest 3G phones around.

And it does have a megapixel camera which, (outside Japan where 2 megapixel cameras are already common) sounds impressive to Western buyers, and on top of that, Nokia can claim that it is the "world's smallest 3G megapixel camera" which again, is hard to challenge.

But the toy which will probably get more attention than it would otherwise manage to raise, is the keyboard. It's a Bluetooth keyboard, foldable, and it will raise the spirits of all those elderly phone users who never managed to work out which button to press three times to get the letter "Y" for texting, and are too ashamed of their failing eyesight to pull out their reading glasses to find out.

Keyboards for mobile phones are common, and the normal trick is to provide a plug-in socket on a foldable keyboard like the ElekSen, which has the advantage of holding the phone in a nice upright position so you can see the screen while you type. But each keyboard can be sold only with the one phone that it fits. Bluetooth, on the other hand, lets Nokia produce a keyboard that works with any Series 60 Bluetooth phone.

But the real surprise will be, not the high end smartphone, but the mid-range Nokia 6170, because of push to talk.

Push to talk (PTT) isn't a big deal in non-American markets yet, but it is proving so popular over there that everybody is convinced it will take off in GSM-land soon; and the 6170 anticipates this trend. It's a stainless steel camera phone, which majors on messaging, with email, IM and MMS - and PTT.

Nokia believes several operators around the world are likely to launch push to talk services this year.

Chairman and CEO Jorma Ollila launched the products, including three clamshell phones - clearly hoping that this will end the industry sniping at Nokia for failing to keep up with the trends in phone design.

"We have now sharpened our product portfolio in key areas, bringing new phones to the market in the mid-range, and adding more clamshells to our offering," said Ollila today.

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