Rumours abound that Nokia is set to unveil its first touch-screen phone next week in a direct challenge to Apple's iPhone, two industry sources told Reuters on Friday.
LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics and several smaller handset vendors have rolled out their own touch-screen phones over the last two years, while the first handset using Google's Android platform will also have a touch screen.
But so far, the world's top handset maker, Nokia, has stuck with traditional screens.
Both sources said Nokia would unveil its new phone - code-named "Tube" - on 2 October at an analyst and media event in London. A Nokia spokeswoman declined to comment.
"The phone is extremely important," said Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi. "We have been waiting for the market leader to respond to Apple's iPhone for a year and a half now. There is a lot of pressure on Nokia."
Milanesi said that the Finnish firm had a history of coming late to the market with innovations, and succeeding anyway.
"With 3G they were late, but they got it right. They delivered and are the market leader. They did it with slim phones. They could do it with the touch screen," she said.
Nokia, which has a strong track record in the lower-end handset market, said in July its touch-screen offering would come this year and be cheaper than rival models in order to tap into a higher-volume market.
Kai Oistamo, head of Nokia's devices business, said in July the Finnish firm was committed to bringing a complete portfolio of touch devices to the market, both in the high-end and low-end segments.
"Taking into account the attention Apple has got, and good sales of LG and Samsung touch-screen phones, Nokia has to be there," said Pohjola's Rauhala. "As there is demand, there is no reason to leave it for rivals."
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