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) --


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is set to upstage Mobile World Congress -- the glitzy wireless industry show in Barcelona next week -- by not showing.

Also expected not to show: A new bevy of Nokia smartphones as the company makes a big departure from the grand productions it was best known for at the annual European mobile phone showcase.

Instead, Nokia says it is planning a more intimate, relaxing gathering of its own nearby.

"In Barcelona, our goal is to create an atmosphere designed to encourage conversations among industry peers," Nokia says on its event Web site. "You'll find us a short walk from the Mobile World Congress."

Nokia has picked an odd time to retreat from the trade floor.

As the world's No. 1 phone maker, Nokia has been under attack from all sides by touchscreen smartphone designs from


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Research In Motion











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, to name a few.

"This is a moment when Nokia would need to fight back a bit and try to convince operators and media that there is some sizzle in their product portfolio," says MKM Partners' analyst Tero Kuittinen.

Nokia's move from fabulous to frumpy might be a reflection of the economic climate. Or quite possibly, it could be a plan similar to

Apple's decision to drop out of the annual Macworld


Nokia may be emulating Apple -- pulling out of the crowd to show how far they are ahead of the pack, says Kuittinen.

"But at the moment," says Kuittinen, "Nokia isn't precisely like Apple, to put it delicately."

Nokia shares fell 19% last year as

rivals pealed off marketshare and grabbed design leadership

. The stock was down less than 1% to $13.06 Thursday.

-- Written by Scott Moritz in New York

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