LONDON Nokia has responded to the expected increased competition in Europe in the smartphone sector from the Apple iPhone with five handsets that have dedicated music and gaming keys and larger than usual screens, and has also laid out plans for an on-line music store to rival Apple's iTunes.
At an event here Wednesday (August 29) the handset maker's chief executive Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo said Nokia expects the global multimedia phone market to grow to 120 million units this year from 80 million in 2006.
Kallasvuo added the company would start selling touch screen phones based on the S60 platform next year.
The top end phone introduced at the London event is an 8GB version of its N81 series as well as a similar data storage version of the company's existing top profit generator, the N95 handset.
The new model includes a 5-megapixel digital camera with Carl Zeiss lens, built-in Wi-Fi, HSDPA and GPS. It also now has a 2.8-inch QVGA screen - one of the largest ever seen on what Nokia says is really a "multimedia computer".
The Finnish phone maker also unveiled two mid-priced music phones: the Nokia 5310 and 5610.
The music store will be rolled out in key European markets later this year, with songs selling for 1 Euro ($1.36) each, while Nokia's own gaming service will start in November. The cost of games, when full versions are purchased, will range from 6 Euros to 10 Euros ($8.16-$13.59).
Part of Nokia's previously stated strategy to offer services as well as phones, both will work via a new gateway, dubbed the 'Ovi', which means door in Finnish.
The services launch comes on the back of Nokia's acquisition last year of digital music distributor Loudeye for about $60 million.
Nokia recently announced it would reorganize its corporate structure into three main units from next year, including one named Services & Software that will manage its offering of consumer internet services.