Nokia unveils its first Linux phone

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HELSINKI (Reuters) – Nokia, the world’s largest cellphone maker, unveiled its first Linux-powered phone on Thursday in a bid to improve its offering at the high end of the market.

Nokia’s new N900 model, with cellular connection, touchscreen and slide-out keypad, can be seen in this undated photo. REUTERS / Nokia / Document

The mobile phone business has shifted to services and software following the entry of Apple and Google into the market over the past two years.

Nokia also unveiled a new Solutions business unit, which aims to better link its telephone operations and its new mobile Internet service offering.

The Finnish company has sought business opportunities by offering services such as music downloads or games to cellphone users as the cellphone market itself matures, but so far its offerings have grown in popularity. .

“As Nokia announces the software platform that will drive its future service aspirations, it has created a dedicated solutions unit. The challenge will be to ensure that all of these work in harmony in the face of fierce competition from Apple and Google, ”said Ben Wood. , head of research at CCS Insight.

Nokia kept its overall market share stable at close to 40 percent, but it lost shares among the more expensive models to Apple.

High-end products are important to Nokia because the company has not only lost market share there, but its average selling prices have fallen faster than the industry average.

Goldman Sachs expects Nokia’s value share (a metric reflecting average prices as well as underlying market share) for phones costing over $ 350 to drop to 13% this year, from 33% two years ago.

THE LINUX BET

Analysts see Linux as a key to Nokia regaining ground in the years to come.

The Finnish company has dabbled in Linux since 2005, using it in “Internet tablets” – sleek, phone-like devices used to access the Web that have failed in part to attract the mass market. because of their lack of cell radio.

The new N900 model, with cellular connection, touchscreen and sliding keyboard, will cost around 500 euros ($ 712), excluding subsidies and taxes.

Nokia’s workhorse Symbian operating system controls half the volume of the smartphone market, more than rivals Apple, Research in Motion and Google combined.

Nokia said Linux would work well alongside Symbian in its high-end product line.

“This in no way endangers Symbian,” Anssi Vanjoki, Nokia sales manager, told Reuters.

“Symbian open source is going to be our main platform, and we are developing and developing it as best we can, both in terms of functionality and distribution… increasingly filling our product line with Symbian, ”he said. .

The new model will use ARM’s Cortex-A8 processor.

“If you look at the power management properties that we have in ARM, at least today they are clearly better, miles and miles better, than what we have in the Intel architecture,” said Vanjoki said, adding that the company would not plan to use Intel processors. later in the same product line.

Linux is the most popular type of free, or so-called open source, computer operating system available to the public. It is in direct competition with Microsoft Corp, which charges for its Windows software and opposes the free sharing of its code.

($ 1 = 0.7024 euros)

Reporting by Tarmo Virki; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter and Rupert Winchester


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