For a while now the rumours of a Nokia Netbook have been lighting up the internet. When Nokia’s Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo confirmed that Nokia are indeed looking at the possibility of breaking that sort of hardware that typical accuracy of most bloggers announced everything from the confirmation of the Nokia N97 as a netbook to Nokia abandoning phones and concentrating on computers.
Ewan over on All About Symbian has a different view though. In his article he considers how Nokia is trying to concentrate on software solutions in the future and how much sense it would make for a Nokia Netbook to show off those solutions.
Nokia are looking to turn themselves into a company where their lead products are software based, and focussed on cloud computing. The need for a desktop computer is reduced – what’s needed is a device to connect to the data, possibly store a local copy for syncing, display and manipulate it, and send it back to the cloud. I don’t think that people are going to stomach a total cloud solution (I know I wouldn’t be one of them) because accidents and problems do happen – witness this week’s outage of GMail in the UK and Europe (America was sleeping, so you might not have read about it on Techmeme).
So a machine with a bit of storage, nice screen and keyboard, modern operating system… I’m sure you could argue that this is the N97 in terms of function but the form is not the ‘hot form’ at the moment. That belongs to laptop style machines with 9-10 inch screens, 80-90% sized keyboards, with a running battery life of around 5-6 hours while connected via Wifi or 3G.
To be honest, with Nokia’s factories and manufacturing base, they should be able to churn out a netbook spec and sized machine to supply almost at cost basis (alternatively there are plenty of factories in China that are more than happy to produce some white label versions for the Finns). The key is not the hardware – as long as it hits the expected specs in the market, then Nokia have a good base design.
Rafe later adds his own comments to the article, theorising that Nokia are more looking towards the eventual convergence of phones and PCs.
However I would be wary of coming to the conclusion that Nokia is suddenly going to produce a Nokia branded laptop or net book as we visualise them today. Instead I would consider the way mobile phone and PC’s in general are converging towards each other. The netbook and MID type devices are pushing downwards from the PC side while the smartphone, especially in the shape of devices like the N97, are pushing upwards from the mobile phone side. Nokia has been calling its Nseries devices ‘multimedia computers’ for some time now and described the N97 a ‘laptop replacement’; clearly there is some marketing speak in such designations, but nor are they unreasonable categorisations.
All things said the entire article is interesting to read, offering two different views from people who usually have the inside track on Nokia. Check it out if you want a glimpse at the future of smartphones.