Nokia's iPhone Foe, the N8 Smartphone, Finally Hits Stores

Nokia's iPhone Foe, the N8 Smartphone, Finally Hits StoresNokia (NOK) released its long-awaited and previously delayed flagship N8 smartphone on Thursday. The high-end device is intended to be Nokia's answer to Apple's (AAPL) iPhone -- a response that analysts have noted has been slow in coming, considering that the iPhone has been on the market for three years.

The N8 features Nokia's revamped Symbian mobile operating system, which allows users to run multiple applications simultaneously. That's a feature that has long been sought by users of the iPhone, and which Apple only recently introduced with its new iOS 4 operating system. Nokia's phone also boasts a 12-megapixel camera that shoots HD-quality videos.

"With the N8, and the new Symbian software, we are bringing a familiar, faster and more intuitive user experience to the world's most popular smartphone platform," Jo Harlow, Nokia's senior vice president of smartphones, said in a statement.

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Harlow noted that consumers' pre-orders for the N8 were the highest in the company's history. The device is first launching in Nokia's online store and the company's retail stores, and is expected to be broadly available in the coming weeks.

Nokia, the world's largest mobile phone maker, has struggled in recent years. It saw its market share fall from 50% to 32%, losing ground as high-end smartphones took off following the debut of the iPhone and a wave of reaction from competitors.

Now, the mobile handset maker is hoping to leverage the vast software experience its new CEO, Stephan Elop, gained at Microsoft. Nokia over the years has tried to regain its competitive edge by focusing on software bells and whistles, rather than hardware features. Elop, however, does not have a background in telecommunications or carrier relationships, and some question his ability to revamp Nokia without that experience in his tool kit.
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