Nokia Communicator Coming to U.S.

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Nokia Communicator Coming to U.S. By KIM GAMEL Associated Press Writer ESPOO, Finland (AP)–Executive Niklas Savander has held conference calls in the palm of his hand on trains in China and on ski lifts in Europe. That’s how he gets the most use from his Nokia Communicator, a nearly 6-inch-long cell phone that opens into a keyboard and wide screen for use as a miniature computer. Besides handling a six-party conference call, the Communicator, first launched in 1996 and available in Europe, Africa and Asia, can do e-mail, work with Excel spreadsheets and send text messages. A version is to be introduced in the United States later this year. “This is an extremely convenient way of doing your e-mails in an airplane so that nobody else can read them,” says Savander, vice president of mobile software unit. To make a simple phone call, though, Savander pulls out his stylish, Internet-capable Nokia 6510, which is smaller than his hand and is among some 20 new handsets being introduced in the first half of this year. An executive with the world’s top cell phone maker can be expected to have multiple devices. But Savander and other Nokians say diversity is the key to success in the industry as cell phones evolve. The Communicator is a tool for business professionals, but what about a teen-ager who wants to listen to music, play games and talk on the same device? Try the Nokia 5510 phone with a digital music player and recorder and a split keyboard that makes it easier to type. Nokia and other cell phone makers also have high hopes for new so-called mutltimedia messaging system technology, which expands on popular text messages to include color pictures, audio and video clips. MMS will be a major topic at the CeBIT trade fair that starts Wednesday in Hanover, Germany, where Nokia and others will be showcasing new products. Ahead of the show, rival Sony Ericsson has unveiled a series of new phone models, including the T68i with a snap-on digital camera; the P800, a multimedia smartphone with a built-in camera and a large color Touchscreen and the Z700, a color screen phone that comes with “Men in Black” and “Charlie’s Angels” games pre-loaded. The Nokia 7650 model, promised for the first half of this year, also includes a digital camera and a sliding keyboard with a tiny joystick. “The trend is more towards terminal concepts that fulfill a very particular functionality,” says Savander, brainstorming as he explains how Nokia tailors phones to users with distinct needs and preferences. Setting his Communicator and the smaller handset on the table, he continues. “This is about just throwing both of these up in the air and then saying OK, well let’s see mother, home, caretaker. Her top five applications are these five, and her preferred form factor is this and her financial situation is this.”

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