Nokia's iPhone Rival Expected in '08

MTCustomers waiting at a Mobile TeleSystems office in Moscow on Friday for the first day of sales of the iPhone 3G.
LONDON -- Nokia's answer to Apple's iPhone will go on sale in Russia and six other countries -- across Asia, the Middle East and Europe -- this year but will miss the Christmas shopping season in most developed markets.

The first touch-screen phone from the world's top cell phone maker will go on sale in Russia, India, Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Spain by year's end.

The Nokia 5800 will cost 279 euros ($387) before operator subsidies and taxes, substantially less than the iPhone.

"The phone is competitively priced, and Nokia's competitive advantage is in emerging markets. When putting two and two together, it's logical they start the roll out from emerging markets," said Neil Mawston, an analyst at Strategy Analytics.

The research firm expects Nokia to ship more than 10 million touch-screen phones next year.

But Ehud Gelblum, an analyst at JPMorgan, said he had hoped that the 5800 would be in shops in developed markets by Christmas.

"This is disappointing as we had expected the device to be shipping in the critical holiday season for most developed countries," he wrote in a note published Friday.

Spurred by Apple, LG and Samsung have already rolled out touch-screen phones over the last two years, mostly in developed markets.

Nokia said its schedule was similar to that for many other phones, adding that customizing the phone's software for operators in other markets would take some time.

The touch user interface makes such adjustments more complex than for other types of phone.