Mar 9, 2008

Nokia Internet Tablet – the history of and philosophy

Mobile-review have posted a very interesting article discussing Nokia's tablet devices. Here is the final rundown.

Rundown on the philosophy of Internet Tablet
Brought about as a promising branch, Internet Tablet devices became the proving grounds for quite a bunch of innovations that will be embedded into mass-market devices down the road. Specifically, these are the inbuilt stand, tactile feedback delivered by the touch-sensitive screen (also known as Haptikos), some other feats and skills. But does this mean that Internet Tablets are next to worthless as products and Nokia doesn’t bank on them? Not exactly.

Internet Tablets are more of a joker that can come into play at the moment you least expect it. A relatively small dev team, prompt reaction to feedback, tiny line-up, direct connection between the OS and hardware plus the system’s easy-to-master SDK for third-party developers – all these things add up to serve as a solid basement for new solutions in this category, the ones that will be commercially successful at that.

Originally, these devices were meant for the US market, since networks-wise it is the world’s leading region. However, the sales generated by tablets in Europe during 2007 were so good, that they won’t be focusing on the US as much down the road. Probably the next announcement, unlike the previous ones, will be held in Europe to signify the growing importance of this market.

Interestingly, with its Internet Tablets the maker also gives the ability to manually update the operating system a try, plus introduces compatibility of older devices with new versions of the OS, which a fundamentally different approach, as compared to the smartphone market of today. And little by little they will be pushing it into their main portfolio as well.

Nokia is trying to create a portable device for accessing the Web, easy communications, and, somewhere down the road, a complement to the mobile phone, a very potent secondary device. This seems to be a necessity, especially with other manufacturers gaining strength in this field, like Apple with its iPod Touch. But while pursuing these goals, they are trying to avoid direct comparisons with UMPCs and sub-notebooks, which have a couple of traits in common but in reality, comprise a totally different type of products. That is, Internet Tablets ignore business-savvy features, they have no support for MS Office documents (except for PDF) whatsoever, in fact, they can’t even open them. In the future, though, tablets should become capable of handling online applications for office documents, rather than their locally stored versions. All up, this device type is a prototype of a smart terminal – not a computer, yet not a handset already, plus they pack in decent displays as a welcome addition. This niche appears to have some potential, but where the market will go is being decided these days already – whether Internet Tablets will become widely adopted in the next few years, or they won’t make it as mass-market devices and will rather hand over their functionality to mobile phones. But regardless of the way it goes, Nokia’s Internet Tablets are among this segment’s strongest players today.

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