The world's top cellphone maker Nokia said on Thursday it has started to ship its flagship smartphone model the N8. Last week Nokia said it has delayed by a few weeks deliveries of the N8 model to the clients who had ordered the phone, hitting its shares on the day new chief executive Stephen Elop started at the helm of the company. The N8 is seen by analysts as Nokia's first model to challenge Apple's iPhone more than three years after its launch. Its success and timing of its sales start are seen as being crucial for Nokia's profit margins in the third and fourth quarter.

Nokia said the N8 would be widely available in the coming weeks. “The Nokia N8 has received the highest amount of consumer pre-orders in Nokia history,” Jo Harlow, the head of Nokia's smartphone unit, said in a statement. The N8 smartphone, first to use Nokia's new Symbian software, was originally scheduled to reach consumers in June. In April, Nokia warned that the software renewal would take longer than it had expected due to quality problems and said that the model would reach consumers by the end of September.

The weak smartphone offering and problems with software were seen as the main reasons for Nokia to replace its chief executive Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo with Stephen Elop from Microsoft. The N8 stands out among its rivals for its 12 megapixel camera but has a slower processor than Samsung's top model Galaxy S and the latest iPhone.

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