Long-running rumors of a Nokia(s nok) tablet running Microsoft’s(s msft) Windows RT could be true based on alleged images of such a device appearing on Friday. Digi-Wo, a China-based website, has pictures of a Nokia tablet that resembles Microsoft’s own Surface RT: A drawing shows the tablet with a keyboard cover and hinge.
Sources close to The Verge say Nokia plans to debut the slate in September at a New York City event. The Verge also says the tablet will include integrated LTE with models supporting Verizon(s vz)(s vod) and AT&T(s t) along with a Qualcomm(s qcom) Snapdragon 800 processor to power the device. That’s exactly the chip I suggested earlier this week that Microsoft use to help turn the next Surface RT into a winner. Digi-Wo says the 10.1 inch display will be 1080p resolution, which I said would be nice to have, provided the tablet can still be priced lower.
Until Nokia sends event invitations, this is all speculation: The images could represent prototypes of products that won’t ever see the light of day. I think the odds are in favor of this being the real deal, however, for two simple reasons.
Nearly all of Microsoft’s traditional hardware partners have abandoned Windows RT because it’s been a relative flop. And second, Nokia has the expertise with both ARM-based processors and mobile broadband chips to put together a compelling Windows RT product.
By expanding its partnership with Microsoft into tablets, Nokia would have an opportunity to broaden its product line and add a new potential revenue stream to its business. And it would be doing so in close contact with Microsoft; possibly closer than the other hardware partners that have soured on Windows RT: Samsung, HP(s hpq), Asus, and others, for example.
Put another way: Thanks to its cozy relationship with Microsoft, it could get better support and help at building a top-tier tablet with Windows RT. It’s even possible that Microsoft doesn’t need to stay in the hardware game with its Surface RT if a Microsoft-Nokia product is more compelling.
When rumors of a Nokia tablet surfaced in December, I was generally against the idea. Windows RT wasn’t yet a proven platform and the market was crowded. Windows RT still has much room for improvement but Windows 8.1 helps in that regard. And there’s very little competition between hardware makers now. If there’s a better time for Nokia to dive in to the Windows RT game, I can’t think of it.
Of course, the company would be taking a risk here because it would be jumping into a market that’s not setting the world on fire: Consumers simply haven’t embraced Windows RT at this point. But every reward comes with risk and if Nokia can afford to take the chance at this point, I think it should; especially if it can work closely with Microsoft while also helping to woo developers.