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Nokia phone adopts handwriting recognition

The Finnish phone maker unveils several new gadgets and announces plans for wireless public transport fares in Germany. Photos: Nokia's smarter phones

Nokia on Tuesday announced it plans to start selling a new smart phone capable of handwriting recognition.

The 7710 model features a touch screen, pen input, a digital camera, an Internet browser, a radio, video playback and streaming and recording capabilities, the company said.

The phone is among the new offerings that Nokia showcased at a news conference in Bangkok, Thailand. The company is expected to start shipping the gadget in Asia and China before the end of the year. The product will hit Europe and Africa in the first quarter of 2005. Pricing for the phone was not announced.

The phone maker has been losing market share and recently reported a drop in its third-quarter earnings. The company hopes the new products will help it plug gaps in its product line and win back market share.

"Smart phones are now at the heart of the industry," Anssi Vanjoki, general manager of multimedia at Nokia, said in statement. "Mobility is a powerful force. Not only are smart phones reaching the mainstream, they are drawing on cross-industry technologies to spur further innovation."

The 7710 also includes e-mail functions, VPN (virtual private network) software, user memory of up to 128MB, and an application that lets people connect to their Web logs. It is designed to run on the Symbian operating system.

The gizmo's visual radio function allows people to view information on the song and artist playing on the radio or participate in competitions, while the eBook software can be used to download and read books from, Nokia said.

Another new product from Nokia, the 3230, features a camera sensor, software for video recording and editing and wireless connectivity via Bluetooth. The third new model, the 6020, features a VGA camera and XHTML support.

The company said shipments for the 3230 are expected to begin during the first quarter of 2005 in Europe and Asia. The phone is priced at 350 euros, or about $444. The 6020 phone will start shipping in the first quarter of 2005 at $253.

Nokia also announced an art project, in which four painters have prepared a series of audiovisual works of art--each lasting 15 to 20 seconds--for mobile phones. The artworks can be downloaded free from the company Web site using certain Nokia phones.

Phone fare
Also Tuesday, the company said it plans to launch a project to test wireless public transport fares in Hanau, near Frankfurt in Germany, beginning early next year.

The trial, in cooperation with the public transport authority for Frankfurt's greater area and electronics group Royal Philips Electronics, will let owners of Nokia's 3220 handset equip their phone with a high-tech shell used to pay for and store electronic tickets.

The shell, developed by Philips, contains technology that makes the phone compatible with Hanau's existing ticketing system.

"Users will simply need to touch their phones against the contactless reader as they get on and off the bus to register their journey," Nokia said in a statement.

Reuters contributed to this report.