HELSINKI (Reuters) – The world's top cellphone maker Nokia unveiled three new, cheaper messaging phone models on Tuesday, challenging the dominance of RIM's Blackberry in the mobile e-mail market.
The new C3 model -- with a full keyboard and priced at just 90 euros ($122) excluding taxes and subsidies -- is likely to be one of the key devices for Nokia this year, analysts said.
In addition to the mid-range C3 model, Nokia also unveiled the C6 and E5 smartphones, priced at 220 euros and 180 euros.
"Price point is a great one .. they are stabbing RIM in the back with these products," said Swedbank analyst Jari Honko.
Nokia has long tried to challenge RIM's dominance in mobile corporate e-mail space, but with little success. However, rising demand from consumers for e-mail on their cellphones has opened a new market rivalry between Nokia and RIM. "In the smartphone space the target is RIM, it's clear," Ilari Nurmi, vice president for Nokia's business phones, told Reuters. "With the C3 we are able to go to a price point RIM is not able to play in."
The C3, which can also connect to wireless Internet hotspots, will go on sale this quarter.
Analyst Geoff Blaber from British consultancy CCS Insight said the model will likely be among Nokia's most important products in 2010.
"This takes the full keyboard, e-mail and social networking to the prepaid and emerging markets, a domain where INQ, LG and Samsung have seen considerable success. This is a late move but a highly disruptive one," Blaber said.
Shares in Nokia were 0.1 percent lower at 11.17 euros by 0844 GMT, in line with European technology shares index. (Reporting by Tarmo Virki; Editing by Brett Young and Rupert Winchester)