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     Volume 8 Issue 77 | July 10, 2009 |

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Sleek and Sexy

Nokia, which has celebrated the sale of over 4 million handsets early this year, promises to change the way people connect

Ahmede Hussain

Over the years, in the age of the Internet, mobile telephony is going through a significant development. People do not use their handsets merely to talk or send text messages any more. Phones have been used to listen to music and radio, to connect to the Internet and even to buy products. Slowly but surely a silent revolution is taking place in the virtual world and Nokia, which has held Nokia Connection 2009 in Singapore last month, wants a major share in that coveted pie. The numbers of people using the net from their phone are staggering and enough to make any handset manufacturer drool: over 9.3 million users go online from their phones to go to different social networking sites like Myspace and Facebook; in this year's January alone, over 22.3 million went online in search of news and information. Chris Carr Vice President, Sales, Southeast Asia Pacific (SEAP), could not but agree. "We are witnessing exciting developments in our industry, we are going through a great transformation of convergence of mobile and Internet. Nokia wants to play a key role in this evolution," he says.

Carr believes that the next big thing in mobile revolution is going to take place in emerging markets. "It will come from Indonesia, Vietnam and Bangladesh. Many of the population from these markets are accessing the Internet, information, education and entertainment on their 'first' mobile. This phenomenon was perhaps unheard of just five years ago," he says. He thinks Nokia is playing a vital role in the newer way people are connecting. "[Say], connecting to the net to gather information or blogging and tweeting and enriching one's experiences," he says. In fact, the company has recently launched Ovi (www.ovi.com), an amalgam of Internet-based services, which marks a major change in its identity as a handset manufacturer.

Ovi, which means door in Finnish, has taken Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines by storm. It will surely pit Nokia against the big guns of the Internet like Apple, Microsoft and Google. Using Ovi one can set up a free one GB email account (like Yahoo, Microsoft and Google), even though it is still at beta stage, it downloads quite fast. Ovi is not all about emailing; it gives free unlimited space for storing photos and videos (like Picasa, Youtube and Flickr). Ovi also comes with a calendar that will surely give Google a run for its money. It syncs easily with Nokia hand phones. What makes Ovi unique is perhaps its store, from where users can download contents for their mobile, some of which are free. E-commerce or the absence of it in countries like Bangladesh is going to pose difficulty. Loren Shuster, Head of Marketing, SEAP, agrees. He thinks that Nokia will solve this problem by working with the operators for charging the users for downloading content. The most popular of the Ovi services is perhaps its Music store, which has already redefined the way music is listened to. Though the bad news for music lovers is that the store has not opened for Bangladeshis as yet, Shuster says "soon" Bangladesh will join the league, he does not however say when.

In this year's Nokia Connection Nokia has unveiled a new handset-- Nokia E72. Building on the much popular E71 design, it is a full QWERTY smartphone, which is going to give a rich email and messaging experience. Unlike other such phones, users will be able to set up instant messaging accounts such as Yahoo! Messenger, Google Talk and Ovi at Nokia Messaging. The phone, which is going to hit the market in the third quarter of this year, will have Optical Navi Key that helps to scroll through emails and Internet browser. Armed with a 5 mega-pixels AF camera, the phone has active noise cancellation technology, which guarantees excellent voice quality. The design, like its flagship N97, is sleek and sexy. It also comes with a magnetometer sensor and a digital compass.

Our digital landscape is changing fast, and Nokia's contribution in bringing it about is immense. The company has lately become environment-friendly, with its sets flashing a message before its users telling them to unplug the charger to save electricity. Around 40 per cent of the world's mobile phone users rely on Nokia to connect their lives, and with new exciting products in the offing, one can tell with perfect certainty that its market share will develop even faster.


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