Optical/IP Networks

Nokia Has No Window for Microsoft Tablets Yet

Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) plans to announce its first Windows Phone-based devices at Nokia World next week, but don’t expect tablets to be in the lineup. The Finnish company wouldn’t commit to developing a tablet based on Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)’s tablet operating system, Windows 8, on its third-quarter earnings call Thursday. When asked about the larger-screen, computing devices, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop said that he sees the opportunity in tablets and will consider it going forward, but offered no hints about when or even if it would launch a Windows 8 version to compete with the iPad and Android options.

Instead, Elop and Nokia CFO Timo Ihamuotila talked up upcoming Windows Phone 7 smartphones, but maintained a conservative attitude toward the deployment plans. Elop said Nokia will be “very deliberate” in how the rollout of new devices since it represents a significant shift in how they sell and manufacture. Nokia has a "long list of things we have to do to ensure we have robust launches in the countries we operate,” Elop said.

On this list is support for different networks like TD-SCDMA in China and Long Term Evolution (LTE) in the U.S., different price points to appeal to all market segments, carrier billing, building the Windows Phone ecosystem and planning what markets to target first. Elop said he’d balance this against where Symbian has been strong in the past and only bring phones to select markets in 2011.

“I want to reiterate that we’re pleased with Nokia’s results this quarter, but we’re on a journey and have to continue to implement well -- one carrier, one country, one radio product at a time so we can bring great products to the world,” Elop said on the call. (See Euronews: Ericsson, Nokia Shine Brighter in Q3 and Nokia Reports Q3.)

Why this matters
Windows Phone devices have been in the works for the past year, so Nokia is clearly taking its tepid market approach to heart. Differentiated smartphones -- in both hardware and software -- will be paramount to its success. But, so will tablets.

If Nokia wants to attract new customers and carrier partners, tablets should be part of its lineup. Here, Nokia won’t just be competing against the iPad and Android, but also other Windows tablet makers. At this month’s CTIA Enterprise & Applications 2011 show, for example, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)’s head of emerging devices, Glenn Lurie, told LR Mobile that Windows 8 will be a player in tablets. (See AT&T: Robots, Machines & You .)

Nokia may have something tablet-shaped up its sleeve, but it may need to get more aggressive with its modest deployment plans if it wants to be competitive.

For more
Read up on Nokia’s plans for Windows devices below.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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