Nokia ( NOK) has outlined its plans to bring new touchscreen and Qwerty keyboard smartphones to the market later this year. On an earnings conference call Thursday with analysts, Nokia chief Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo said touchscreens and Qwerty devices were important and that the company will "renew our portfolio meaningfully." Toward the end of this year, Kallasvuo said, Nokia will introduce mid-range and higher-priced phones to "cover more Qwerty and touch, and the combination of the two."
The news confirms what TheStreet.com first reported last week, that Nokia was planning three specific touchscreen devices that include Qwerty keypads this year. The move is significant for Nokia, which has been lagging an industry enamored with touchscreens. In the fourth quarter, Nokia lost 17% of its smartphone marketshare last year for its tardy touchscreen performance. Rivals like Research In Motion ( RIMM) and Apple ( AAPL) surged ahead in the hot smartphone segment at Nokia's expense. One of the first of the new Nokia smartphones will be a device that features so-called haptic or vibration technology from Immersion ( IMMR) that is due out this summer. Nokia is also working on project Nautilus, which apparently emphasizes a very slim touchscreen design. Sources familiar with the plans say the phone uses a sensor to extend and withdraw the keyboard into the phone. The keypad is said to be ultrathin, but when it slides out the Qwerty keys rise for easier typing. The first Nautilus phone isn't due for another year.