By Harry Suhartono
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Ailing Finnish cellphone maker Nokia will launch its first smartphone using the Microsoft Windows platform later this year, and will begin to ship the models in volume in 2012, Chief Executive Stephen Elop said on Tuesday.
"Our primary smartphone strategy is to focus on the Windows phone," Elop, who moved to Nokia from Microsoft last year, said at a telecom conference in Singapore.
"I have increased confidence that we will launch our first device based on the Windows platform later this year and we will ship our product in volume in 2012," Elop reiterated.
He provided few details on how he planned to arrest a slide in Nokia's market share.
Last month, Nokia said it decided to abandon hopes of meeting key targets just weeks after setting them, raising questions over whether Elop can deliver on a turnaround he promised in February.
Nokia also unveiled its new N9 smartphone, the first and last to use the MeeGo platform, at the Singapore event and said the commercial launch will be held later in the year.
Nokia has been losing ground in the smartphone market to Apple Inc's iPhone and Google Inc's Android devices, and in the low-end mobile phones to more nimble Asian rivals such as China's ZTE and India's Micromax.
In a research note this month, Nomura said Samsung Electronics will become the world's largest smartphone maker this quarter and Apple Inc will take the number two spot next quarter, pushing Nokia to the third place.
Nokia has led the market since 1996 when it launched the Communicator, a smartphone that is popular in the business community for its ability to browse the internet as well as to receive and send emails, data and fax.
Nokia dumped plans to use MeeGo in its future smartphones when in February it picked Microsoft's Windows Phone as its future software choice, but it decided to unveil one of the models it was working on before closing the business line.
The N9 model, Nokia's first and last to use MeeGo, comes with a large touch screen and is available in black, cyan and magenta. The MeeGo platform -- a newcomer in the market dominated by Google and Apple -- was born in February 2010 when Nokia and Intel unveiled a merger of Nokia's Linux Maemo software platform with Intel's Moblin, which is also based on Linux open-source software. After Nokia pulled back from the project four months ago other vendors have become more interested in the technology as Nokia's dominant role in the project had held back others from adopting it.
The partnership with Windows may not be a panacea for Nokia's troubles since rivals including HTC and ZTE will continue to bring out devices based on Microsoft's software.
Nokia's market value has plunged by more than half since February, after the leak of a memo from Elop that compared the company's market position to a man standing on a burning oil platform.
(Reporting by Saeed Azhar and Eveline Danubrata; Editing by Anshuman Daga)