In an effort to maintain interest in its Symbian platform, Nokia announced Tuesday two new smartphones and an update to the operating system. The phones, the Nokia E6 and X7, are aimed at business users and entertainment enthusiasts, respectively.
Recently, Nokia announced that it will move from its Symbian platform to Microsoft's Windows Phone 7. The company has been criticized for not keeping Symbian competitive with Apple's iOS and Google's Android operating systems, among others.
No Date for Ending Support
A key question has been how the world's largest handset maker will make the transition over this year and next without losing its current customers. Nokia has said it intends to sell 150 million Symbian devices during the transition, adding to its current installed base of more than 200 million Symbian devices.
Last month, Nokia executive Purnima Kochikar posted on the Nokia blog that, in countries such as China, India, Russia and Turkey where Symbian is the leading platform, the company expects to keep selling Symbian "long after Windows Phone devices from Nokia have already started to appear in other markets." Because of this, he said, it's not possible to "give you the date when Symbian will no longer be supported."
The E6 and X7 are the first smartphones with the Symbian update, which is nicknamed Anna and which will be available in upcoming months for Nokia's N8, E7, C7 and C6-01.
Anna offers user enhancements, including new icons, improved text input, faster Internet browsing, and an updated version of the Ovi Maps application, with improved search and new public transportation routes. There's also a split-screen view while typing, and a virtual QWERTY keyboard for fast typing.
'Minimum Hardware Requirements'
The newest Symbian also has features for business users, such as hardware-accelerated encryption for improved enterprise-grade security and new e-mail options, including full meeting requests.
Jo Harlow, head of the company's smart devices business, said the new devices and user enhancements can "keep existing Nokia smartphone customers engaged, as well as attract new first-time and competitor smartphone users."
The E6 targets businesses with a high-resolution touch display, a full QWERTY keypad, and support for Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft Communicator Mobile, and Microsoft SharePoint.
The X7, for entertainment-oriented consumers, has a four-inch display, an eight-megapixel camera, and HD-quality video. It comes pre-loaded with Galaxy on Fire HD and Asphalt 5 HD games.
Avi Greengart, an analyst for industry research firm Current Analysis, noted that there may be pricing issues with the transition to Windows Phone 7 because, "in some price segments, Phone 7, as it currently exists, will not be the cheapest offering." The reason, he said, is that "minimum hardware requirements" for Phone 7 could make it too expensive for those segments.