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Nokia N9 Critics give thumbs down

Nokia N9

Nokia chief executive Stephen Elop unveiled a new smartphone on Tuesday that uses software the firm plans to ditch, a move analysts said would do little to halt the Finnish firm’s slide in market share for handsets.

Nokia, once the ubiquitous name in hand phones, has lost ground in the smartph

 one market to Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android devices, and in the low end of the market to Asian rivals such as ZTE and India’s Micromax.

At a telecoms conference in Singapore, Elop reiterated that Nokia would launch its first smartphone using Microsoft’s Windows platform later this year, even as he unveiled the new N9 smartphone, which uses a platform called MeeGo.

“Our primary smartphone strategy is to focus on the Windows phone,” said Elop, who moved to Nokia from Microsoft last year.

“I have increased confidence that we will launch our first device based on the Windows platform later this year and we will ship our product in volume in 2012,” Elop said.

Analysts said the firm’s strategy would condemn the all-screen N9 to being a niche product. The model – Nokia’s first and last to use MeeGo – can be navigated by a single finger swipe and comes in black, cyan and magenta colours in a polycarbonate design.

“The N9 comes too close to the expected launch of Nokia’s Windows Phone device to have any impact on its current smartphone woes,” said Ben Wood, head of research at London-based mobile consultancy CCS Insight.

“The strength of rival ecosystems leaves little room for MeeGo powered devices. It’s difficult to see the N9 being anything more than a niche device.”

The MeeGo platform – a newcomer in the market dominated by Google Inc and Apple Inc – was born in February 2010 when Nokia and Intel unveiled a merger of Nokia’s Linux Maemo software platform with Intel’s Moblin, which is also based on Linux open-source software.

After Nokia pulled back from the project four months ago, other vendors have become more interested in the technology as Nokia’s dominant role in the project had held back others from adopting it.

Nokia has thrown in its lot with Microsoft , with whom it will co-develop its next generation of smartphones. It hopes to get the kind of attention Apple and Google have attracted from software developers who enrich their devides.

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