Commentary
2/25/2009
07:30 PM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
Commentary

Nokia Mulling Laptop Business

Nokia's CEO recently said that the company is thinking about a future in laptops. Can the Finnish maker of cell phones successfully make the leap from cell phones and Internet tablets to full-featured laptops?



Nokia's CEO recently said that the company is thinking about a future in laptops. Can the Finnish maker of cell phones successfully make the leap from cell phones and Internet tablets to full-featured laptops?Is business for the world's largest maker of cell phones really that bad?

Several weeks ago, the company said that it would scale down production to meet the slowing demand for cell phones. Just yesterday, it offered a voluntary retirement option in the hopes that 1,000 brave souls will lay themselves off so Nokia doesn't have to swing the ax. Now, Nokia's CEO told a Finnish television station that the company is searching out new business opportunities, and is even considering laptops.

Some of Nokia's handsets and devices rival laptops in capabilities. Its Communicator range of smartphones and N-series Internet tablets can browse the Web and do a range of things that are often relegated to PCs.

It almost (almost) could make sense for Nokia to make the leap to netbook maker. Merging its E91, N97, and N800 devices into one, more powerful device shouldn't be that hard to do. But is it really in Nokia's best interests to pursue this business?

CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo said, "We don't have to look even for five years from now to see that what we know as a mobile phone and what we know as a PC are in many ways converging. Today we have hundreds of millions of people who are having their first Internet experience on the phone. This is a good indication." I can't disagree with that statement. For many, the mobile Internet is the only Internet that they've ever used.

But how would Nokia approach this?

The Internet tablet from Nokia runs on a version of Linux. Nokia's smartphones run Symbian S60. What platform would Nokia choose for a netbook / laptop? Linux? A new form of Symbian? Windows? My guess would be a newer version of the Linux OS that runs on its Internet tablets.

Given its sheer size, I've no doubt that Nokia could manufacture just about any device it wants to, and imbue it with lust-worthy capabilities.

Whether or not it should is another question.

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