By Tarmo Virki
HELSINKI (Reuters) - Nokia (NOK1V.HE: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) will unveil its first touch-screen phone next week in a direct challenge to Apple's (AAPL.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) successful iPhone, two industry sources told Reuters on Friday.
LG Electronics (066570.KS: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), Samsung Electronics (005930.KS: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) 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 cellphone maker, Nokia, has stuck with traditional screens.
Both sources said Nokia would unveil its new phone -- code-named "Tube" -- on October 2 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."
Nokia shares hit 13.21 euros on Friday, down 50 percent from the start of the year in part because of the slow introduction of touch-screen models.
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.
Red more at Reuters