Reeling from the successful launch of music phones from Sony Ericsson and Motorola while its own hard-drive handset is delayed, Nokia has announced another MP3 mobile. But the twistable 3250 won't be available until after the crucial Christmas season.
That's a real shame, because the 3250 looks like it'd fit rather nicely onto our Xmas list, with its large colour screen, 2megapixel camera, FM radio and twisting keypad that has numbers on one side and media controls on t'other. Nokia are hazy about the on-board memory, but the phone features a microSD card slot to expand capacity to 1GB (around 250 songs). And unlike Motorola's iTunes phone, the 3250 will come with 3.5mm headphone adapter so you can use your own cans.
The 3250 has pretty catholic tastes, too: it supports MP3, AAC and WMA music formats as well as Real Audio and mobile-specific eAAC+. It won't work with the iTunes Music Store, though, unless Apple have an unexpected burst of goodwill towards its rivals over the yuletide season.
Nokia announced the 3250, which will cost €350 (£240) unsubsidised, at a vast rave in Berlin this weekend. They also used the event to launch the new 'XpressMusic' sub-brand for music-optimised mobiles. The XpressMusic tag guarantees all the right things – capacity, quality, battery life, proper headphone jacks and multi-format support – but even the presence of The Chemical Brothers and thousands of sweaty revellers couldn't hide the fact that Nokia has been losing ground in the music wars of late.
Back in spring, when the hard-drive N91 was announced, the Finns were the undisputed leaders in converged mobile music devices. But the arrival of the Walkman phone and the iTunes-compatible ROKR, combined with the delay of the N91, has put Nokia on the back foot. It's early days yet, but the company that already considers itself the biggest phone and camera manufacturer in the world has some way to go before it's the number one music brand.