‘Tis the season…for mixed messages. Finland’s Nokia has announced it is bringing its Nokia 5800 Navigation Edition and enterprise-friendly E72 smartphone to United States customers in an effort to boost the company’s presence in the North American phone market. But at the same time, the company is closing down its high-profile flagship store on London’s Regent Street…apparently because it isn’t able to garner enough foot traffic, despite a busy Apple Store being right across the road.
First up, the Nokia 5800 Navigation Edition is an updated version of the company’s 3.2-inch touchscreen handset that comes with a car kit and lifetimes voice-guided navigation service for North America via Nokia’s own Ovi Maps service. The phone can easily be mounted on a dashboard or windshield, and provides not only directions but also speed warnings, red-light camera alerts, and “near real-time” information on traffic and construction. The phone can also provide pedestrian-friendly directions for walkers, and it can do it all without connectivity: the bulk of the mapping information and route planning capability is on the device itself, so users don’t get lost if they go outside coverage areas. The 5800 Navigation Edition also features a 3.2 megapixel video-capable camera, HSDPA connectivity, and support for up to 16 GB of storage via microSD cards. Nokia is pricing the phone at $299, although through December 31 the company is offering a $50 prepaid Visa gift card to customers who buy the phone and activate an Ovi Store account.
The Nokia E72 is the company’s mainstream enterprise smartphone: the device offers a 5 megapixel video-capable camera , a QWERTy keypad for email and messaging, 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity, assisted GPS, microSD removable storage, Bluetooth 2.0+EDR, and a full suite of communication and Web browsing capabilities. The device can handle up to 10 email accounts (including corporate accounts running on Microsoft Exchange or Lotus Notes servers) and tap into a wide variety of instant messaging services. The E72 will be available through Best Buy, nokiausa.com, and other retailers for a suggested retail price of $469.
While Nokia is trying to ramp up its phone offerings in the U.S.—without carrier partners, in the case of these two phones—the company seems to be suffering a bit of a setback in its stronghold western European market. Nokia is closing the doors on its flagship Regent Street store in London, apparently because it just couldn’t get enough foot traffic—ironic, since there’s a successful Apple Store just across the road. Nokia apparently put over $6 million into its London retail location when it opened two years ago, and largely emulated the Apple retail experience. Nokia shut down the store’s to floor in June, and now apparently will close down the entire operation in the first quarter of 2010 as it looks to rework its retail operations.