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nokia N900

The world's largest handset maker, Nokia unveiled on Thursday its first phone running on Linux software, aiming at improving its offering at the top end of the market.

"As Nokia announces the software platform that will drive its future services aspirations it created a dedicated solutions unit -- the challenge will be to ensure that all these elements work in harmony in the face of fierce competition from Apple and Google,"

said Ben Wood, head of research at CCS Insight.

The Finnish firm has dabbled with Linux since 2005, using it in "Internet tablets" -- sleek phone-like devices used to access the Web that have failed to gain mass-market appeal in part due to their lack of a cellular radio.

The new N900 model, with cellular connection, touch screen and slide-out keyboard, will retail for around 500 euros ($712), excluding subsidies and taxes.

Nokia's workhorse Symbian operating system controls half of the smartphone market volume -- more than its rivals Apple, Research in Motion and Google put together.

Nokia said Linux would work well in parallel with Symbian in its high-end product range.

"Open source Symbian is going to be our main platform, and we are expanding and growing it the best we can, both in terms of functionality as well as distribution ... populating more and more of our product line with Symbian,"

[via reuters]