Nokia 5800 XpressMusic hits a brick wall coming out of the gate

Though Nokia has yet to issue a formal confirmation, a representative of the New York City flagship store where Nokia phones are sold confirmed to Betanews this morning that Nokia corporate officials have ordered the store to cease sales of its 5800 XpressMusic phone, which only premiered in the US last Friday.

The sales halt comes after apparent customer complaints about 3G connectivity issues, the store representative told us, though no details about those specific issues were given. This would be a separate issue from the defective construction complaints also mounting about the device. The mobile device news source Mobile-review.com on Friday reported that, of ten shipping units its reviewers had tested, all ten had serious defects in which the casing loosens over a short period of time, causing the earpiece connection -- essentially the whole point of having a music phone -- to give way.

Nokia had made no deals with major US carriers, so the phone was only available unlocked through specialty retailers and through its branded stores in New York City and Chicago. The 5800 represented the latest stage of Nokia's efforts to reorient itself in a North American market where it has recently lost significant market share. Last January, the manufacturer tried to quell fears about plummeting sales by assuring analysts, as best it could, that its US sales this year might only drop by 10%.

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The 5800 had also been seen as a device that would pave the way for the emergence of Comes With Music, its mobile music distribution service, for the US market later this year. Last Friday, a key Nokia executive leading the Comes With Music project told ChannelNewsAsia that he is in talks with record labels to let music tracks be sold worldwide without digital rights management.

While the absence of DRM would be a boon for music consumers, the absence of a working headphone jack or a working download connection will not. The Nokia store representative had not been told when or if sales of the 5800 would resume.

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