Shock! Nokia ships latest smartphone before we've all forgotten about it

Say what you will about the state of Nokia, Europe’s favourite Finnish handset maker, but no one will disagree that its product launch strategy over the years has been the very opposite of Apple’s. Whereas Steve Jobs likes to start shipping a product within weeks – if not the same day – of an announcement, a typical Nokia launch goes something like this:

First, a blurry photoed product leak or two, followed by an early hands-on review by Nokia’s most wanted Russian blogger. Days if not weeks later comes the official press conference or announcement, and then… nothing. Six months later said device finally begins shipping, meanwhile the mobile world has understandably moved on.

It’s something that’s always baffled me because, firstly, it doesn’t seem to be the case for other handset makers – HTC seem particularly nimble in comparison- and, secondly, it’s not obvious that these are unplanned delays. So it’s to my surprise that this morning Nokia announced that it has already begun shipping its C7 smartphone, one of three new Symbian^3 handsets unveiled at last month’s Nokia World. Here’s how I described the C7 after I got a brief hands-on at the event in London:

A sort of mass-market N8 (see below), the C7 is described as a “social networking smartphone” with the emphasis on updates from social networks such as Facebook and Twitter and email alerts pushed to the homescreen. It features a 3.5-inch AMOLED display with a build that combines “stainless steel, glass and soft edges”, and 8GB of built-in storage. It’ll be priced at around €335, excluding taxes and carrier subsidies.

To get an idea of how it feels in the hand, imagine an all touch screen version of the Nokia E71, minus the physical QWERTY keyboard. In fact, the C7 and all the devices announced today appear to have benefited from the fact that the E-Series and N-Series (and the company’s other smartphone ranges) reportedly no longer work as separate divisions, with design cues shared more broadly across the board.

Interestingly, Nokia themselves appear to be acknowledging that the C7’s short time to market after the initial launch isn’t the norm.

Who said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.