mocoNews - Smartphone Bits: Blackberry Tour; Nokia Updated E72, 5530 XpressMusic; Samsung's Touchscreen Jet

Dianne See Morrison
Tuesday, June 16, 2009; 10:00 AM

How competitive is the smartphone market becoming? Following last week's launch of the Palm (NSDQ: PALM) Pre and the iPhone 3GS comes the roll out of Samsung's touchscreen Jet, RIM's 3G Blackberry Tour, and Nokia's E72 and 5530 XpressMusic.

RIM: The 3G-enabled Blackberry Tour 9630 will go on sale in the US through Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ) and Sprint (NYSE: S) Nextel. Sprint said yesterday the phone will go on sale this summer priced at $199 after rebates and on a two-year contract, the same price as the Palm Pre and the latest iPhone (for new subscribers and eligible upgraders). Some analysts have fretted that the number of smartphone releases are eating into RIM's profit margins, and will spell long term trouble for the company that currently, has 50 percent of the US smartphone market.

But one analyst believes that the Tour could add 5 cents to earnings and $175 million to sales in RIM's Q2, which ends in August, Bloomberg reports. Broadpoint Amtech analyst Mark McKechnie wrote in a note yesterday that RIM (NSDQ: RIMM) may sell 400,000-600,000 Tours through the end of August. "We expect solid margins at launch for the Tour," said McKechnie.

Nokia: The Finnish cellphone maker, the biggest in the world, launched the E72, an updated version of its well-received E71, a super slim QWERTY phone, and a new touchscreen music phone, the 5530 Xpressmusic phone, a follow up to its 5800 music device. Both phones will ship in the third quarter. Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi told Reuters, "Nokia (NYSE: NOK) is trying to address the very competitive mid-range space given the prices of the Pre and the new iPhone."

Samsung: The South Korean electronics giant, currently the second largest cellphone maker after Nokia, is confident that it will increase its market share in 2010, boosted by the sales of smartphones, touchphones and messaging phones, reports Bloomberg. Its current share of the market is 19 percent, which it hopes to increase to at least 20 percent by year end. Hong Won Pyo, EVP of Samsung's mobile communication business, said in a press conference in Seoul unveiling the Jet that the proportion of touchscreen devices in Sansung's new portfolio is around 30-35 percent, and will be higher in 2010. He said, "Mobile Internet is becoming almost a mandatory component in the mobile life in the industry right now, so touch is a general requirement for high-end." No US carrier has picked up the Jet so far.

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