In a potential setback to its U.S. expansion efforts, Nokia Corp. was forced to pull its first high-profile touch-screen smart phone from its flagship Manhattan store, citing the device's problems connecting to the local third-generation, or 3G, network.

Nokia said that its 5800 XpressMusic device - a media-centric smart phone and the company's first crack at a touch-screen device since Apple's iPhone hit the market - was having connection problems in New York and Chicago. The device works in Dallas and Miami.

"The investigation is ongoing on the device itself and the network used in these cases," a Nokia spokeswoman said, adding that it was an isolated issue only found in North America. She declined to comment on why the phone would work in some markets and not others.

Users of the 5800 XpressMusic who experience 3G signal problems are advised to contact Nokia customer care, she said.

While the 5800 wasn't intended for mass adoption in the U.S., the problems illustrate the need for Nokia to work more closely with the U.S. wireless carriers in putting out products. The 5800 doesn't have a carrier partner and is sold independently through retail chains such as Best Buy and at its own Nokia stores. The so-called "unlocked" phones can accept SIM cards from any compatible carrier. In this case, it was AT&T Inc. and its 3G network. If Nokia had worked with AT&T earlier, the trouble might have been averted.

An AT&T spokesman said,"We can't guarantee the performance of a device on our network if it hasn't been tested on our network."

Because the 5800 has little carrier support, the wider audience of consumers will likely be unaware of the slip-up. But Nokia has built a small, loyal cult following for its smart phones, and the 5800 was among the most eagerly awaited.

That audience of gadget enthusiasts is the key to Nokia's efforts to expand its presence in the U.S., which the company views as a growth market. Nokia invested in a facility in San Diego to design devices specifically for the U.S., and has signed a pact with Qualcomm to manufacture chips for the phones. It has also vowed to work more closely with the carriers
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