Nokia is rumored to be developing its own Windows RT slate in order to test the market. According to industry hardware watcher Digitimes, Nokia(s nok) has discussed the project with Microsoft(s msft), Qualcomm(s qcom) and Compal Electronics, which would partner to support such a tablet in order for Nokia to test the market. According to Digitimes’ industry sources, a Nokia designed Windows RT tablet was actually planned prior, but held up due to Microsoft’s own Surface RT product.
“Nokia originally planned to develop a 10-inch Windows RT tablet equipped with Qualcomm’s S4 processor in first-quarter 2012, with Compal to undertake ODM production and initial shipments of 200,000 units to test the market, the sources indicated.
But because Microsoft later announced Surface, and the market for Windows 8/RT tablets needed to be proven, Nokia internally focused on smartphones, and delayed the development of the 10-inch Windows RT tablet, the sources pointed out. “
Digitimes doesn’t have a perfect track record when it comes to such news, so I’m not yet sold on this actually happening. But Nokia has attempted to break into the Windows laptop market in the past. Amid falling phone sales, the company debuted the Nokia Booklet 3G netbook back in 2009.
Even if it this report does turn out to be true, I think it would be a mistake for several reasons. Experimentation is good, but Nokia isn’t in a position for a potential product flop. It’s simply too risky to debut a product — even as a market test — with hopes of success.
If such a test shows little to no consumer interest, analysts won’t be kind to the event. I’m also unsure of what Nokia has to offer the Windows RT market that would make such a product standout from competitors.
For smartphones, the company has a rich history in radio communications plus excellent camera sensors and optics. Could these help a Nokia-branded Windows RT tablet stand apart from the crowd? Color me leery. Camera benefits on a 10-inch tablet — which is the size being bandied around — aren’t likely to attract buyers. Integrated mobile broadband capabilities might, but these typically come with the baggage of a carrier contract; something the market has shown isn’t desirable for tablets.
Another thought: Part of what got Nokia into its current situation was product focus. The company at one time literally had a phone model for nearly every possible type of user, creating hundreds of unique designs. In short, instead of concentrating research, development and effort on fewer, better products in the line, Nokia wasn’t in a position to compete with the current smartphone kings.
There are other reasons for today’s challenges at Nokia, but product line focus is certainly one. Instead of divesting resources on a totally different product line with a smaller current audience (based on smartphone vs. tablet sales) where it has no expertise, building a Windows RT tablet seems like folly at this point in time.
That’s just my reasoning and it’s certainly arguable so share you thoughts in the comments. And to make things even simpler, jump into our yes-or-no poll on if Nokia should build a Windows RT device.