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Nokia halves its smartphone portfolio

Nokia plans to halve the number of smartphones in its portfolio, but it confirmed its commitment to the Symbian operating system.

The new head of Nokia's smartphone division, Jo Harlow, said in a webcast the move was in response to "really fierce competition" at the top of the market, and increasing competition for less sophisticated models.

Although Nokia still holds 35% of the mobile phone market, it has lost ground to Apple's iPhone and Research in Motion's BlackBerry, and is most at risk from Samsung, which has almost doubled its market share in two years.

Nokia CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo said earlier Nokia plans to push smartphone prices down while increasing margins, helped by its Symbian operating system.

Simplifying the product range will allow Nokia to put more effort into fewer products, said the firm's head of smartphones R&D, Antti Vasara.

Nokia is also trying to emulate Apple's success with the App Store with Ovi, a similar online store for applications and music.

It is also making Symbian an open source platform, meaning that anyone can write applications for it without paying licence fees.

Analysts said Nokia's extensive product range had helped it in the past, so any cuts would have to be thought through carefully.

"Reducing the number of smartphone models makes a lot of sense but Nokia has to be very careful in finding the right balance," said Bernstein analyst Pierre Ferragu.

Pablo Perez-Fernandez, an analyst with MKM Partners, said, "Simplicity is always best, so cutting the number of models while improving the rest of the portfolio is a sensible move."


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