Nokia retires its 6216 Classic handset

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Nokia Oyj, the world's biggest maker of mobile phones, said it won't release the planned 6216 Classic handset because the device no longer fits into its product line.

The bar-style handset would have been Nokia's first broadly marketed handset using near-field communications, or NFC, which enables customers to make payments and other transactions by waving their phones in front of a reader or tapping them on it. The company is still working on NFC and remains "firmly committed" to the technology, Doug Dawson, a spokesman, said by e-mail.

Nokia announced the 6216 Classic last April with the aim of shipping it in the third quarter. The Espoo, Finland-based company is trimming the number of models and concentrating features in fewer, more capable handsets, executives said at an investor meeting in December. The withdrawn handset was Nokia's first to use a standard for NFC that placed the customer's payment details on the SIM card controlled by the carrier.

"NFC isn't a must-have consumer feature at this point, especially this type of NFC which is a feature to attract operators, not users," said Nick Jones, a London-based analyst at Gartner Inc. "Most consumers would rather pay money for a bigger screen, touch-screen, better music and so on because those are features they use all the time."

Earlier Nokia models with NFC stored payment details on the phone itself. Nokia tested contactless ticketing for mass transit systems in London, Frankfurt and Vienna in 2007 and 2008. It's also tested using handsets as Visa Inc payment cards in Taiwan.

 

Smartphone software

"I suspect Nokia aren't as keen on the operator-controlled mode as on the other mode they've demonstrated in the past where the handset manages the NFC, not the operator," Jones said.

"That model allows the handset manufacturer to do more and probably aligns better with Nokia's long term service-oriented view of the world," he said.

Qwerty keyboard and touch-screen phones are taking over from bar-style phones as more customers demand the ease of use that was previously found only with the most expensive smartphones.

The 6216 Classic didn't have smartphone software and was announced with a price of €150 ($204, Dh750). In August, Nokia announced its 5230 touch-screen, which has smartphone software to run apps and media, at €149.

 

Payment habits

"We've decided not to take the 6216 Classic to market as it no longer fits into our current product portfolio," Dawson said. "We will continue to look for ways to develop NFC and help create the environment necessary for its success."

Gartner's Jones said he sees NFC rolling out slowly in most mature markets, where customers have established electronic payment habits with credit cards and other cards that may get NFC chips themselves.

"We're still positive about NFC as the long-term winner in 'e-touch to act' technology, of which 'e-touch to pay' is a subset," Jones said.

Nokia has invested in Inside Contactless SA, an Aix-en- Provence, France-based company that develops NFC hardware and software, through its Nokia Growth Partners venture capital arm. In December, Nokia sold its shares in NFC service company Venyon Oy to Giesecke & Devrient GmbH, a Munich-based maker of banknote printing supplies and smartcards.

 

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