Nokia was an early mover in the tablet space — in 2007, years before the iPad burst onto the scene, it was unboxing its N800 Internet Tablet (which looks more like a phablet by today’s enormo-phone standards). But these days the Finnish high-end and low-end mobile maker does not play with slates — at least, not yet. That could soon change though, judging by comments made by Nokia CEO Stephen Elop who has given the company’s clearest hint yet that it wants to get back into the tablet space.
Speaking to the Australian Financial Review, Elop stopped short of announcing a Nokia-branded tablet is coming but confirmed the company is taking a close look at the space. “We haven’t announced tablets at this point, but it is something we are clearly looking at very closely,” he told the newspaper. “We are studying very closely the market right now as Microsoft has introduced the Surface tablet, so we are trying to learn from that and understand what the right way to participate would be and at what point in time.”
“It is the case that in the months and years ahead, you will see us broaden out the portfolio, which means pushing to lower and lower price points, in some cases smaller form factors and so forth,” he added.
So what OS would a future Nokia tablet run? Windows seems inevitable — what with Nokia being a Microsoft partner for its Lumia line of Windows Phone-based smartphones — but Elop was careful not to rule out alternatives such as Android.
“We would consider any option [Android or Windows],” the newspaper quotes Elop saying, although he went on to described “the Microsoft side” as Nokia’s “first focus”.
“It is important to note that the opportunity for companionship is something that any user is looking for. So, when you think about the Lumia 920, running on Windows phone, having a Windows tablet or PC or Xbox is something that will give us the opportunity to have a pretty integrated experience. Our first focus on what we look at is clearly in the Microsoft side,” he said. “But we have made no decision or announced nothing.”
Elop has previously talked about keeping an open mind about OS alternatives, telling Spanish newspaper El Pais last month that it was looking further ahead in smartphones and considering what role Android or other alternatives might play, while remaining “immediately focused” on Windows Phone. But in the interview with the Australian Financial Review, Elop said that Samsung’s growing dominance of the Android market had vindicated Nokia’s decision to eschew Google’s platform.
“On the Android side, we were very worried that we would be entering Android late relative to everyone else in the industry, that perhaps one vendor was already well on the road to being the dominant Android vendor at the expense of everyone else,” he told the newspaper. “If we look back two years to when we made the decisions, then Samsung was big, HTC was pretty big and Motorola was pretty big. Of course what has happened in the two years is that Samsung has captured the lion’s share of it and the others have been squeezed down to much smaller market share. We were worried about exactly that pattern forming.”