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Three years and
a dozen market-share points late, Nokia has introduced a thin touch-screen phone that will be available in select markets -- read maybe the U.S. in the third quarter.
The standout features include a 12-megapixel camera with high-def video, free Navteq-powered navigation and 16 gigabytes of memory. The N8's 3.5-inch screen and a half-inch thickness is roughly the same as the iPhone.
The N8 is the first phone to use Nokia's Symbian 3 operating system, which promises to heat up the legal battles, because it uses multitouch controls like pinch and finger-spread zoom. This is one of the technologies popularized by Apple's iPhone and at the core of
Apple's patent infringement lawsuits against Nokia and more recently
HTC. Nokia started the patent fight last year
accusing Apple of infringement on some of its wireless technology.
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Nokia has been struggling to develop a touch-screen phone that could help it compete with the likes of Apple and an expanding roster of
Google(GOOG - Get Report) Android-powered phones made by
Motorola(MOT) and HTC.
Nokia has managed to remain the top smartphone maker globally, but it has lost a lot of turf to rivals like
Research In Motion(RIMM) and Apple.
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The N8 is
aimed directly at Apple and the touch-screen trend.
One of the biggest challenges, beyond phone design, is finding support among U.S. phone companies to sell the phones. Telco subsidies cover as much as $300 of the customer's cost of the phone. In the exchange, the telco gets subscribers locked into two-year service contracts.
In recent years, Nokia's promise of a new generation of touch-screen phones has been a disappointment. The N8's arrival hopes to deliver on that promise and get Nokia back in the game.
Nokia shares continued their week-long 18% slide, falling 2% in midday trading Tuesday.
--Written by Scott Moritz in New York.