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At its Nokia World event in Barcelona Tuesday morning, Nokia (NYSE: NOK) confirmed a fancy new N97 multimedia handset with slide-out keyboard and personalized internet widgets, said it closed its full acquisition of Symbian today and gave more details on its location-based services strategy. Oh, and made a couple of veiled jabs at Google (NSDQ: GOOG) and the iPhone…
— Social location: CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo: “Automatically lets you avert traffic jams or crowds. By putting together your location, your contacts, you get mashups. I love this idea. Imagine what can happen when we mash up social networking and your location, when your device knows where you are, where your friends are and what they are doing. Your social location, or SoLo will become your here-and-now-identity.”
More on maps, the N97, personalized internet and other topics after the jump…
— Point & Find: Leveraging the camera, Nokia’s “virtual compass” will let users point at landmarks to slurp down location info from the internet, like augmented-reality information in the palm. Markets EVP Anssi Vanjoki: “Combining the real world with the virtual world, pointing at a building with a virtual compass and being told everything about that building.” The service has been trailed publicly since at least 2007, but Kallasvuo said today it’s “already in beta testing and will be launched soon”. No explicit word on whether it will come with the N97 and the website still says “coming soon”, but hard to believe it wouldn’t.
— Better than Google Maps: Vanjoki: “There’s a company that says they can index the world; we are going to go deeper – we are going to coordinate the world, we are going to coordinate everything on a map. Not just a map that is standard like a Google Map, but a map that is dynamic, with vector graphics, driving all the roads of the world, making sure we have coordinates for everything there is, with Navteq.” Kallasvuo said the present-day Nokia Maps has been downloaded six million times so far; as for the coming upgrade: “All of these improvements leverage the power of Navteq”, the map maker Nokia bought this year for $8.1 billion.
— N97 After the letdown of the 5800, the latest handset, due in H109, looks like the best realization yet of Nokia’s various visions for connecting people. Vanjoki said 15 million of Nokia’s popular N95s had sold to date, but still “there’s a little bit of a phone-like touch to this computer today”. The N97 will pack a 3.5in 640×360 touchscreen with 5800-esque tactile feedback, a whopping 48Gb storage, 16 million colors and a pivoted qwerty for easier typing. Vanjoki used the big screen to show a mockup of the N97 watching a YouTube video from the webpage rather than a separate app – a nod to iPhone’s lack of Flash support, perhaps. Vanjoki acknowledged that gadget fans had been “following Gizmodo and Engadget for the latest scoop – but this is the scoop they didn’t get!”.
— Personalized internet: Kallasvuo wants to make it not “the internet but “your internet”, “this will be the next chapter in our continued story of ‘connecting people'”. If the N97, with its slide-out keyboard, was beginning to sound like the recently introduced T-Mobile G1, also note it will support internet widgets that can be rearranged on a personalized home screen with finger swipes. Examples shown include Facebook and Ovi, showing friends’ activity on the homescreen – something that’s missing from the 5800’s feed-friendly contacts bar. Meanwhile, the handset maker will add Nokia Messaging, a single app serving as a gateway to any webmail, email and IM accounts the user may have.
— Symbian: A sleight to iPhone’s comparatively “closed” developer platform, Kallasvuo said: “Good ideas do not come from our laps alone: that’s why, unlike some of our competitors, we are committed to build a truly open system to extend the reach of our services.