Nokia drops letters for phone names, goes to just numbers

The numbers are intended to give people a rough idea of how advanced the phone is

Nokia has decided that its one-letter naming convention plus a model number for its phones isn't keeping up with the times. The Finnish phone maker said in a blog post on Monday that it will now use just numbers, calling its latest smartphone the "500."

Nokia's letter-naming scheme was intended to describe who should use the phone: the Eseries were for business users, and the Xseries is entertainment-focused.

However, most phones today have very adaptable hardware and software, and users can do whatever they like with them. The letter classifications were indicators, but often didn't match-up to what people were actually doing with their phones, Nokia wrote.

Also, it was difficult for users to compare phones with the same number: for example, the Nokia C7 versus the X7, according to the company.

The first number is still meant to illustrate how advanced a phone is. So one that has a name starting with 9 would be "top dog," and a device that has a name starting with 1 "is the most accessible option," according to Nokia. People understand the logic behind "the bigger the number, the more you get" philosophy, it said.

A switch to names like the ones used by Samsung and HTC would have been a better option than sticking with just numbers, according Roberta Cozza, principal research analyst at Gartner. Names like the HTC Sensation are easier for consumers to remember, she said.

Samsung's Galaxy model has become a brand in itself, and branding has become increasingly important in today's competitive smartphone market, according to Cozza.

This is the second naming change Nokia has made as it shifts from using the Symbian operating system to Microsoft's Windows Phone OS. In May, Nokia said it would stop using the Ovi moniker for services such as Maps, which will instead be called just Nokia Maps.

The new Nokia 500 will cost €150 (US$210) before taxes and subsidies, and will be available from the third quarter of this year. It has a 3.2-inch capacitive touch display, a 1GHz processor and a 5-megapixel camera.

The phone is based on Symbian Anna, an updated version of the Symbian^3 mobile operating system. It has a refreshed user interface and a better browser, according to Nokia.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

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