Let's put Nokia's new $700 smartphone in its proper context:

Palm launched it's Palm Pre on Saturday for $199. Apple announced it will drop its 8 gig iPhone down to $99 effective immediately, along with releasing its new iPhone 3GS starting at $199 on June 19th.

Reminder: we are in the worst economic downturn since Hoover was in office. People are scared. People are broke. Almost 10% of the population is unemployed. The other 90% are afraid they'll be next.

The pricing commandment is clear: Thou shalt not price a smartphone above $200.

Du-Doh! Nokia just broke that commandment in a big way.

Nokia's new N97 just went on sale for $699. Can you say "salmon"?

File this under the "what were they thinking file?"

Granted, you don't have to sign a two year contract committing yourself to hundreds and hundreds of dollars to a specific carrier. But then again, you buy the phone and then you have to commit to a plan with a carrier anyway if you want to use it.

Nokia clearly is not serious about making major inroads in the U.S. smartphone market, although it dominates just about everywhere else in the world (which is why they likely don't care about us).

This whole mobile device thing is starting to remind me of the automakers
.

Nokia's N97 is kind of the Rolls Royce smartphone reserved for people with more money than sense.

Blackberry Storm = Mercedes (S Class)

Blackberry Curve = Mercedes (E Class)

Blackberry Pearl = Mercedes (C Class)

iPhone 3GS 32g = Volkswagen Touareg

iPhone 3GS 16g = Volkswagen Passat

iPhone 3G 8g = Volkswagen Beetle

Palm Pre = Lexus Sedan

Google phone = Honda CRV

Sidekick = Nissan Murano

That's right; no American made analogies.

If U.S. automakers made mobile devices; they would talk about making smartphones and then not do it for another ten years. Their regular joe blow cell phones would be too big, made mostly of plastic and somehow include a cup holder.

GM would advertise theirs as the "dial tone of America", while manufactoring them in China. They would offer 132 different models of the exact same phone. Some of them would be named after planets.

Ford would come out with a retro Gordon Gecko (Michael Douglas from the movie, Wall Street) phone that weighs six pounds and is just a wee bit smaller than a loaf of bread.

Chrysler would manage to shove an airbag or two in their phone casings.

George Clooney would show off his tin- can- and- a- string greenphone at the next Cannes Film Festival. Who cares though? He's still a babe and I would talk to a Campbell's soup can anytime if George was at the other end of the string.

But I digress...