Scott Moritz at The Street is hearing that Nokia plans for a new touchscreen tablet device by the end of this year. I don’t know how true that is or not, but if it does happen, Nokia should name it the Phoenix. It sounds like the old 770 and N800/810 form factor is rising from the ashes, based on Scott’s description:
“One of the new models to be rolled out over the next 12 months has a 4.2-inch touchscreen and a “hidden slide-out keyboard,” and is considered a mobile Internet device or tablet.”
Let’s see: 4.2-inch screen for the new device, huh? The current N810 has a 4.13-incher. A hidden slide-out keyboard? Yup: been there and done that on the last iteration. Touchscreen? That’s old hat too.
So what could be different? Actually, the more important question is: what has to be different for this type of Nokia device to gain mass market appeal, at least in these parts?
- Integrated 3G capability. One failing of the original devices is that unless you were near a usable WiFi hotspot, you had to rely on another device for your connectivity. Bluetooth tethering with a phone could sometimes be hit or miss and it requires you to carry another device that may already have many of the same capabilities.
- A tweaked UI. Maemo as a platform isn’t a bad choice, but mainstream consumers want a simple, intuitive environment. I need to be able to give the device to my Dad and have him use it without any questions. (He’s not tech-saavy, if you didn’t guess.) Say what you will about Apple’s (s AAPL) iPhone: when I handed it to my father, he was able to use it faster than any other device I’ve shown him.
- Standard cell-phone usage. I’ve argued in the past that besides semantics, the difference between a MID and a smartphone is cellular voice capability. No, I don’t expect folks to put an Internet Tablet up to their head, but a stylish Bluetooth headset included with the device remedies that real quick.
- Carrier subsidies. This device isn’t going to take off in the mainstream unless the price is $199 or less. That could happen without subsidies, but such an MID is going to need data connectivity at a minimum, so why not bundle it with a plan and get the hardware price minimized?
- An app store. No, I’m kidding on that one. But, there is something to be said for a vast software library: it’s what is turning smartphones from devices into platforms. If Nokia wants to keep Maemo Linux on the device, that’s fine. But they have to court more developers… fast.
In any case, this is all conjecture on my part and my opinion is no more valid than anyone else’s. How about it: can you see this happening and if so: what would it take?