Nokia Unveils New Touchscreen Phone, Vows To Beat RIM In Mobile Email

With all the attention that Apple (AAPL), Google (GOOG), and Research In Motion (RIMM) get for their new smartphones, it’s easy to forget that Nokia (NOK) is still by far the world’s biggest mobile phone maker. Which means you can’t count it out of the smartphone wars.

And while Nokia’s new answer to the iPhone, the 5800 XpressMusic, is no iPhone — Gizmodo says the touchscreen doesn’t cut it, especially for typing — the company has been making some smart moves lately, specifically around mobile email.

  • For consumers, it bought Montreal-based OZ Communications, which makes mobile messaging/email services. This should improve the messaging and email functions on Nokia smartphones.
  • For enterprise, it’s no longer developing its own proprietary mobile email system, and has licensed Microsoft’s ActiveSync — the same thing Windows Mobile smartphones and iPhones use to communicate with Microsoft’s popular Exchange email servers.

And that’s where Nokia’s size is an advantage: “We will exceed the RIM client (BlackBerry) in some months with a very good e-mail system,” CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo said last night, according to Reuters. (RIM has 19 million BlackBerry subscribers.)

Why do smartphones matter so much to Nokia? Because Nokia’s smartphone business, while small unit-wise, means a lot to the company’s sales and profits. The 7% of Nokia’s phones that sold for more than $300 last year represented 15%-20% of its mobile phone revenue and 20%-25% of its gross profit, according to AmTech analyst Mark McKechnie.

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