After proclaiming for a decade that smartphones will inevitably rule the world, on Monday Nokia announced the Nokia Booklet 3G, a high-end netbook that runs Windows.
To avoid allowing Windows Mobile get established in cellphones, Nokia created and nurtured Symbian for more than a decade. Now it’s becoming one of the last firms to adopt Windows, at a time when PC makers (like Dell) are adopting Linux-based Android smartphones, while other PC makers are considering ARM-based (rather than Intel-based) devices.
While I’ve noted that the netbook niche is growing rapidly, I don’t see how Nokia hopes to achieve any meaningful market share. Perhaps there will be a good 3G radio in its netbook, but HP, Dell, Lenova, Toshiba, Sony and others can buy such radios on the open market. (We call this open innovation).
I don’t see how Nokia will have an advantage on scale, innovation, features, branding or distribution over existing netbook makers like Asus, and Acer or the PC followers such as HP, Dell, Sony etc. etc.
It’s not that I doubt Nokia’s capabilities — although using software off the shelf will help it provide greater functionality than its current mobile devices.
However, I can’t see how being late to market in a commodity market is going to turn out well. The choices are low cost or differentiation. The former seems less likely, since it hasn’t been a low cost producer and it seems unlikely to happen any time soon.
Has Nokia has produced innovative phone hardware? Sure, but so have the Korean companies — and they also make PCs.
Meanwhile, the Taiwanese leaders seem to be keeping their lead producing low cost implementations of commodity netbooks. So far, there hasn’t been a lot of volume in the differentiated offerings, and perhaps there won’t be until the new Apple tablet comes along.