Nokia to make netbooks!

March 5th, 2009

nokia-n97-smartphone.jpg

Nokia has dropped broad hints of its intentions to enter the netbook market. Nokia’s big boss, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo in an interview with a Finnish TV admitted “we are looking very actively at this opportunity.”

What began as rumours last year has fuelled itself into a full-blown opportunity for Nokia.  The company executives do not want to miss out on a product category that is thriving and which could be a good platform for boosting uptake of its web services (that are to be launched in May-June this year). This backs up Kallasvuo’s statements made at Barcelona last month that Nokia would expand the definition of the smartphone “into categories and form factors that have not yet been explored”. But the use of an ARM-based chip will hugely disappoint Intel.

Intel’s Atom processors gave birth to the idea of netbooks by leveraging its powerful position in the PC industry. Today, the chip giant has ensured that its mobile processors remain dominant in netbooks category, even as it got tougher to break into the conventional smartphone world. Intel is investing through recession – which executives insisted would be the pattern for 2009 too– in order to emerge from the downturn with the most advanced products in key growth areas. With operators relying on mobile data for their own survival plans, netbooks with embedded 3G, Wi-Fi and/or WiMAX should certainly represent one of those growth areas, and Atom is already driving volumes at Intel, even if it is squeezing margins.

Nokia, the Finnish giant, is reportedly working on a cut-down, mobile web-optimized PC, based on the recently announced ARM multicore Sparrow processor and incorporating elements of the existing N800 internet tablet, including its Maemo-based Linux software platform.

We won’t see a Nokia netbook until early 2011, and most probably missing the first boat for netbooks. But trust Nokia to try to outdo the traditional PC makers in terms of form factor and mobility, playing to its strengths and building on the N800 experience to create a new approach, as well as capitalizing on its vast scale and logistical excellence.

According to various leaked features (found easily on the internet) of the supposed prototype, nicknamed Nokia Sparrow, include a multi-slide keyboard with different layouts, automatically revealed as the device is moved in different directions; and a multidirectional display, similar to the tilting display of the N97 smartphone.

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