Nokia 'Tube' seen as iPhone challenger

Device has touchscreen, Symbian based

Nokia has begun publicly discussing what some are calling the mobile phone maker's biggest product response yet to the Apple iPhone -- a device with the code-name "Tube".

In an interview Tuesday, Nokia spokesman Kasey Farrar said the device, due in the second half of the year, will be the first touch-based interface phone on the most recent Symbian operating system, called the S60. He said Nokia has already released more than a dozen touch-based wireless devices running on Linux, such as the N810 and the N800.

According to reports, Tom Libretto, vice president of Forum Nokia, speaking at yesterday at the Evans Data Developer Relations conference in Redwood City, California, said the proposed phone is code-named Tube and that it will support Java and allow the ability to upload photos.

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

Both Libretto and Farrar compared Apple's iPhone sales of 4 million through January to the many phones that Nokia sold globally last year. In 2007, Nokia sold 60 million converged devices, where voice and other functionality such as a camera or MP3 player are combined, with a total of 437 million wireless devices in all, Farrar said. Apple spokesman Simon Pope today confirmed that iPhone is expected to sell 10 million devices in 2008.

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

Regarding the challenge that iPhone has given Nokia and other device makers, Farrar said 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."

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