Nokia takes on Apple's iPod with a digital music phone

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The Independent Online

It has become the hippest gadget to have, with more than 15 million sold worldwide, but Apple's iconic iPod music player is under attack from another giant of the electronic world, Nokia.

It has become the hippest gadget to have, with more than 15 million sold worldwide, but Apple's iconic iPod music player is under attack from another giant of the electronic world, Nokia.

As the growth in mobile phone sales has shown signs of slowing, Nokia has decided to turn its attention to the booming market for mobile music players.

Yesterday, it claimed its new N91 was a mobile jukebox to rival the iPod with a mobile phone, digital camera and e-mail facilityto make it more compelling than Apple's device.

Mats Wolontis, managing director of Nokia UK, said: "I would say there are many advantages. It has a 4 gigabyte hard disk which means you can store up to 3,000 tracks. It is designed for music usage. You can use it with any headphones or speakers connected to it. It has very easy to use software to manage thousands of tracks. The sound quality is state-of-the-art and the best around and it's a device which is more or less the same size as an iPod mini."

The fact that consumers can also use it to make calls, take pictures and send e-mails meant it had even more to offer than the iPod, said Mr Wolontis.

It has been possible to download music tracks using a mobile phone before but this is the first time a large manufacturer has launched a device of the quality and sophistication to take on the iPod.

The Finnish company, whose products have come to dominate the mobile phone market, has seen growth in its traditional markets start to slow. Sales of its phones have come under attack from more sophisticated but cheaper competitors from the Far East, such as LG and Samsung.

By the beginning of last year, Nokia's share of the global mobile phone market had slipped to 28.5 per cent from more than 40 per cent previously.

The mobile phone industry's annual growth rate has slowed from 44 per cent at the beginning of last year to 10 per cent now.

But while its mobile phone sales have taken a dip against rivals, Nokia has seen sales of other types of electronic devices, such iPods, rocket.

Apple has taken the market by surprise over the past 12 months with the success of its iPod music player that downloads up to 10,000 tracks from the iTunes website. It launched its iPod mini version last year that stores 1,000 tracks.

Earlier this month Apple said it had sold 5.3 million iPods in the first three months of this year alone, an increase of 558 per cent compared to the sales from a year ago. Sales of its iMac computers have also increased as new customers have discovered Apple technology through the iPod. The company said that, in the first quarter of the year, it sold 1.07 million computers, a 43 per cent increase.

iPod and N91: head to head

LAUNCHED

iPod: 2001

N91: November 2005.

COST

iPod: £209

N91: £500 (estimate)

MEMORY

iPod: 20 gigabytes

N91: 4 gigabytes

NUMBER OF SONGS

iPod 5,000 songs

N91: 3,000 songs

BATTERY LIFE

iPod: 12 hours

N91: 12.5 hours

FEATURES

iPod: Click wheel for easy use. Takes 10 seconds to download an entire CD.

iPod: Easy transfer of music from PC or internet. Camera, Bluetooth technology, share playlists by e-mail and text message

SALES PITCH

iPod: "Better than ever"

N91: "What sets the N91 apart is that it is always connected - you can download music while on the move... "

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