“Is Nokia ready to change its fortunes in the U.S. market? The Finnish company has grown into the world’s largest mobile-phone maker by conquering country after country. But in the U.S., Nokia has steadily lost ground in recent years, watching its market share shrivel to single digits,” Olga Kharif and Jack Ewing report for BusinessWeek.

“Nokia hopes to reverse that trend. On Mar. 30, AT&T (T), the largest wireless carrier in the U.S., plans to announce it will soon carry Nokia’s e71x, the thinnest smartphone available in the U.S. The phone is similar to traditional BlackBerry devices in looks, but is a sleeker 0.39 inches thick. It has a Qwerty keyboard, allowing for Web browsing and corporate e-mail access via regular wireless networks and Wi-Fi hotspots at cafés and airports. The device also has a built-in Global Positioning System, a music player, a video camera, and a memory card slot. The Nokia e71x is expected to hit the U.S. market in May and should cost $100 after rebate with a two-year contract,” Kharif and Ewing report.

“Of course, one phone can only make so much difference. Nokia has long harbored some ambivalence about the American market because of the heavy control that wireless carriers exert in the country and because wireless technology in the U.S. has not been as advanced as in Europe. Some experts believe Nokia let its U.S. market share slide in part because it could reap higher returns in other markets, though Nokia executives say they haven’t deliberately neglected the U.S.,” Kharif and Ewing report.

“The U.S. market is growing more important in several respects. Apple, with the success of its iPhone, has turned the country into a test lab for reinventing the mobile phone as minicomputer. Apple customers, concentrated in the U.S., have become the early adopters in downloading software to cell phones, with more than 20 applications loaded up on the average iPhone. Nokia wants in on this business, as do RIM, Microsoft (MSFT), and Google (GOOG). Nokia also doesn’t have the luxury of overlooking any market these days. The mobile-phone market, long so fast-growing, is expected to shrink by 10% this year, according to Nokia’s own forecasts,” Kharif and Ewing report.

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]