Nokia of Finland, the planet's largest cellphone manufacturer, on Wednesday took a giant step toward the the long-promised brave new world of mobile multimedia.

The cellphone giant used the Nokia Mobility Conference in Barcelona as a launchpad for its new N series handsets - multimedia devices that will exchange content with electronic equipment in the home, provide enhanced security for mobile email, allow users to watch and record live TV, and interchange content like music or graphics with PCs, audio equipment and printers.

Among the new gizmos is the N71 musicphone, a tool claimed to enhance internet access on a small display. Other phones in the new lineup are targeted at corporate customers, for example the E range that enables users to send emails with attachments with enhanced security protection.

Anssi Vanjoki, head of Nokia's multimedia unit, is no stranger to global marketing-speak: "We don't call these devices mobile phones," he hyped. "The boundaries of telecommunications, IT and consumer electronics are fading.

"They are multimedia computers that people won't buy because you can use them to make calls." [A sentence that that neatly illustrates the perils of thinking in Finnish while speaking in English.]

Nokia ceo Jorma Ollila told attendees he expected the market for 'convergence handsets' to double to 100 million units next year. The new range is expected to be hotfooting off retailers' shelves worldwide by summer 2006.

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff