Two years later, Nokia ( NOK) answers Motorola's ( MOT) call with a super-skinny folding phone of its own.

Nokia's N76
Razr killer?
Photo: Nokia

The Finnish phone giant unveiled its N76 handset, previously dubbed the "Razr killer" by industry watchers. The flip phone, with a 2-megapixel camera and an mp3 music player, is about the same size as Motorola's iconic, half-inch-thick Razr.

Trying on the sleek Motorola duds marks a major departure for Nokia, which has tried to ignore trendiness in favor of utility.

Nokia watchers are hopeful Monday's N76 introduction will catch on with phone fashion setters and ease the need to beat back competitors by lowering prices.

Last week, Motorola slashed profit numbers for the fourth quarter as a price war with Nokia took its toll on the bottom line. Analysts say the dulling Razr can't fetch high prices anymore, and margins are shrinking fast now that telcos are giving away free models to lure subscribers.

As wireless industry watchers can tell you, Nokia has been particularly unbending in its willingness to follow phone fashions over the past few years. As a result, the No. 1 phone maker has slipped behind as a design leader.

Critics blame the stubbornness on Nokia's famous arrogance. But fans see some rewards to Nokia's broad approach of developing numerous phones across the entire wireless market. The contrast between Nokia's "all phones for all people" strategy and Motorola's hot-model focus has been especially clear so far this year, with Motorola's profits diving as Razr demand cools.

The N76 is the second ultrathin phone introduced by Nokia in recent weeks and begins to deliver on a promise from handset chief Kai Oistamo late last year that in 2007, "there will be thinness throughout all form factors and all price points."

Nokia expects to have -- don't call it a phone -- the multimedia computer available in the first quarter of this year. The expected price is around $500 before service contract incentives and rebates. Analysts say the phone, which is a global systems for mobile, or GSM, variety, will be available first in Europe and later in the U.S., most likely through T-Mobile, the U.S. arm of Deutsche Telekom ( DT), or Cingular, the wireless unit of AT&T ( T).

With Razr's decline and little traction with Motorola's successors like Krzr, the year ahead looks to be shaping up as a popularity contest between Nokia and the imminent iPod phone from Apple ( AAPL).