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The Finnish mobile phone giant's latest, greatest N900 smartphone is available to American consumers today. It is a very impressive device with every bell and whistle you can think of:
- Mozilla-based Web browser with full support for Adobe Systems (Nasdaq: ADBE ) Flash content, including YouTube videos and most of the games on Facebook.
- Five-megapixel camera with autofocus and the same top-notch Carl Zeiss optics you might find in a stand-alone camera from Sony (NYSE: SNE ) .
- A high-performance Texas Instruments (NYSE: TXN ) processor based on the latest technology from ARM Holdings, capable of running advanced applications without slowing the phone down.
All of this adds up to a serious piece of hardware, running Nokia's in-house version of the Linux operating system. In fact, it's a decent rundown of things the Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) iPhone can't or won't do today, to the consternation of some users.
OK, so Nokia's app store is nowhere near as impressive as the gold standard set by Apple, but the phone itself might make up for it in many cases. After all, TechCrunch calls the N900's Internet experience "the best browsing experience of any smartphone on the market today (yes, including the iPhone)."
So what's the problem? Like I said, Nokia needs to make friends in America. There are no discounted or subsidized N900 handsets available through any of the service providers, so you have to buy the network-agnostic phone at the full $650 retail price and then find a compatible service plan from a compatible network like AT&T (NYSE: T ) Wireless or T-Mobile.
Nokia sells more mobile phones than anybody else in the world, and this dominance includes the smartphone segment. Yet the company's footprint in the American market is vanishingly small. If Nokia has any desire to make it big over here, it had better work out some distribution deals with one of the big boys, like AT&T or Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) . The N900 might be a better handset than the iPhone 3GS -- but do you know anyone who would pay three times the iPhone price to get it?
I sure don't. Nokia makes fine devices, but it needs a better marketing plan. Feel free to offer the company some advice in the comments box below.