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Nokia's new smartphones mix personal with business for mobile workers

With the E66 and E71 smartphones, Nokia introduces a portfolio of devices that serve both the personal and professional needs of mobile workers in a variety of form factors.

In the enterprise market, smartphone manufacturers have realized that mobile workers need devices that cater to both their personal and professional needs.

It's a trend that is perhaps most evident with the iPhone. An ultimate consumer device with music, photo and video capabilities, the iPhone has found its way into the enterprise despite an early lack of enterprise features. Apple has responded by offering some features that make it more appealing for corporate adoption.

Nokia, with the release of its new E66 and E71 smartphones, is directly appealing to this trend.

"The E series devices, at their genesis, are designed for the enterprise, but what I think we've learned is that we need to address both the personal and the professional side of that user," said Jay Burrell, Nokia's vice president of business mobility and software in North America. "There has always been a tendency to compartmentalize segments, and I think, going forward, the lines have been blurred. In a short period of time, we've seen devices and data plans that have incented you to use these devices for all your needs, both enterprise and consumer usage."

"It's an effective strategy," said Avi Greengart, research director for mobile devices at Current Analysis. "Employees are consumers, too. Nokia now has a line that includes multiple form factors and enables IT managers to deploy applications across all of them without making any changes."

Nokia's E66 and E71 bring two new form factors to the company's E series portfolio. The E71 is a narrow and extremely thin smartphone with a full QWERTY keyboard. The E66 is a slide-to-open smartphone.

Burrell said Nokia is offering multiple form factors in its E series portfolio because there is no single design that appeals to all enterprise users.

"There are so many different types of mobile workers out there," said Sean Ryan, mobile enterprise research analyst for IDC. Some users want the full QWERTY keyboard of the E71 so that they can respond to text messages and emails, he said. Other users who receive an email would rather respond by phone call and don't need a full keyboard, preferring the smaller form factor of the E66.

Both devices support business email with Microsoft Exchange and personal information management features. But they also support consumer email and services, and they feature music playing and photo and video capabilities.

"The trend … with these devices – you've seen it with the BlackBerry Pearl and the Windows Mobile devices – [has been that] they have moved to catering to both sides of the individual," Ryan said. "Nokia has taken it a step further with these new devices."

He said he was impressed by a feature that allows E66 and E71 users to toggle back and forth between professional and personal profiles.

"A little icon at the top of the screen changes the profiles," Ryan said. "You can federate and separate your business applications from your lifestyle applications. People do have a need and desire to have an all-in-one device. That doesn't mean they're going to be one-device people, but when using a business device, there will be times when you need to do some personal tasks. And you will have times when you're at home and you'll need to do some work tasks. With this ability to change profiles, it's a better way to organize."

Nokia has found most of its enterprise smartphone success in Europe, Ryan said. "In the U.S., they have almost no presence. The U.S. is very much BlackBerrys and Windows Mobile and then some Palm OS devices. [Nokia is] in the mix, but they're chasing [BlackBerry maker] RIM."

The new Nokia devices are undeniably attractive, Greengart said, but the E71 in particular will need to hit the U.S. market with subsidies from mobile network carriers if Nokia is going to have an impact on the business smartphone market.

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Shamus McGillicuddy, News Editor

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