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First Nokia smartphones running Windows Phone 7 coming later this year

Nokia Chief Executive Stephen Elop said Tuesday that his company expects to begin selling its first phones running Windows Phone later this year, before ramping up volume shipments in 2012.

Elop confirmed the plans at a telecom conference in Singapore, assuaging investor fears of lengthy delays, Reuters reports. "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," he said.

During a Microsoft preview event last month for the "Mango" update to Windows Phone 7, a Nokia executive had confirmed that the company's first Windows Phone devices would run Mango, but hesitated to commit to an end-of-year deadline for the first devices.

At Tuesday's event, Elop also unveiled the N9 smartphone, which will run on the MeeGo platform, and is set to launch later this year.

Nokia first revealed the extensive partnership between the two companies in February. While charting out the companies plans to move from Symbian to Windows Phone, Elop said 2011 and 2012 would be "transition years."

On Monday, one analyst characterized Nokia's plunging market share in European as continuing to "implode." The world's largest handset maker saw its share of the smartphone market on its home continent cut in half from 40.6 percent a year ago to 20.2 percent in the March quarter. Another analyst believes Nokia's transitional period could result in big gains for Apple's iPhone and other competitors.

Apple and Samsung are expected to surpass Nokia in smartphone sales this quarter, with Samsung taking the top spot among global smartphone makers. Nokia has led the worldwide smartphone market since 1996.