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Summary:

Nokia’s Internet tablet efforts – the 770, and more recently, the N800 – have produced a mixed bag of results. While the techies have been enthusiastic about the Linux-based tablets, the consumer electronics crowd (and buyers) hasn’t been overwhelmingly enthusiastic. On Tuesday, some Nokia folks stopped […]

n800_pro.jpgNokia’s Internet tablet efforts – the 770, and more recently, the N800 – have produced a mixed bag of results. While the techies have been enthusiastic about the Linux-based tablets, the consumer electronics crowd (and buyers) hasn’t been overwhelmingly enthusiastic.

On Tuesday, some Nokia folks stopped by in our makeshift offices and articulated their vision for the tablet series. The company is betting that as more web services start to support the platform, the devices will gain in popularity. The Finnish phone maker believes that tablets are the next evolution of computing, and as web service matures, these Internet-centric devices will gain more traction.

And one such service is Skype. Nokia is expecting that Skype support will make the device more alluring, especially in the overseas markets.

The Nokia N800 is a nifty looking device that is very capable when it comes to making VoIP phone calls – we use Gizmo client all the time. Google Talk hasn’t exactly become our favorite, but like most we think Skype could actually make us use the device a lot more, especially for quick calls to other Skypers.

“Skype is certainly the most popular,” says Ari Virtanen, Nokia’s vice president of convergence products. Nokia will release in an early beta (without SkypeIn/SkypeOut support) in a few weeks, but the full version of Skype client is expected later this summer, Virtanen says. The Skype support, if nothing else, makes the N800 more attractive to folks who don’t want to lug a laptop along on short day trips.

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We see N800 becoming a good way to consume music from subscription services such as Rhapsody and Napster. Nokia folks showed off the Rhapsody service, it was simple, easy to use and music streamed quite nicely over an EVDO-powered Wi-Fi network. Nokia wants to add more such services: Yahoo Music, MSN and Yahoo Messenger amongst others to boost the utility of the device. “It is an Internet services based platform,” says Virtanen.

“The world of computing has gone from mainframes to desktops to now laptops,” says Virtanen, “and the next step is tablets.” That future is going to take a lot longer than either Nokia or anyone else can imagine.

The sales register isn’t exactly jangling with regularity. Nevertheless, Nokia plans to add more retail outlets to its sales channel, especially in the US. Currently the device is sold online, and at Fry’s and CompUSA.

The big boost for N800′s descendants will come when Sprint launches its WiMAX network, sometime in 2008. At higher speeds, most web services are going to become easily accessible, and the N800 type devices will see their utility go up.

  1. Hi Om,

    Great article. By Nokia wanted add Yahoo and MSN messenger clients (I’m assuming under their own name) wouldn’t that take away from the developers creating 3rd party apps such as GAIM to do the job? Or is is just another method of user preference?

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  2. What do you mean by “EVDO-powered Wi-Fi network”?

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  3. EVDO-powered: a router that logs to the Internet using an EVDO card and then takes that signal and creates a small hot spot. tons of companies selling these devices now. D-Link etc.

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  4. Darla,

    they want Yahoo, MSN and every third party to create their own apps for this platform. I should have been more clear about that.

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  5. EV-DO powered WiFi network — sometimes called mobile access router (MAR). See victorblake.com/articles.aspx

    As for Nokia 770 — I think it’s too much of a compromise — too big for cell phone, too small for tablet. Windows Mobile software beats it and full fledged on ultra mobile pc’s like sony beats the compromise.

    That’s my opinion.

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  6. Thanks for that link Victor.

    I agree with you on the market positioning, though I hate the UMPC format all together. too bulky, very short battery life and well windows. that says it all ain’t it.

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  7. [...] Om Malik, from the Giga OM blog, was recently visited by Nokia’s vice president of convergence products to talk about the device and the future of the internet tablet. [...]

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  8. 770 = $299 @ CompUsa
    N800 = $399 @ CompUsa

    Does anyone think that people are buying these types of devices to “talk” with?? I’m not on the Cingular waiting lists for the IPhone so I have a cool phone to talk on. I’m interested in the other features.

    Talk is cheap…its what else you can do with these devices that makes them attractive and if Nokia is waiting for Skype to bail them out of a luke warm product…they should close up shop on the tablet now.

    5Tacos

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  9. I still don’t understand why you want a SIP enable device to support a proprietary techno like Skype…

    Just because a lot of your friends are using it ? Com’on computers can be more fun than just follow the sheep !

    It’s not hard to make your friends switch for a standard solution .

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  10. well, they’re doing bad because they’ve intentionally crippled down the device(it needs a sliding keyboard and integrated 3G support). of course they won’t do that cause they wanna sell you a phone to connect the tablet to or those fancy communicators.
    it’s a pity but they’re just experimenting with this.

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