Don’t get me wrong, I like Nokia handsets and like many others my first mobile phone was a Nokia. Also like many others, I haven’t stayed blindly loyal to the handset maker either, so jumped ship when better options came along. Since then, it ousted its CEO in favor off ex-Microsoft executive Stephen Elop and pledged allegiance to using Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform as its primary smartphone OS.
However, right up until February of this year, the Finnish manufacturer insisted it was keeping its options open for a potential tablet platform strategy. Even at the time, it was always unlikely it would walk anything other than the Windows route for tablets too, after all, it makes sense in terms of offering services and trying to create a unified experience across multiple devices, so if the rumors are correct and Nokia’s making a Windows RT tablet I can understand why it might. I just wish it wasn’t.
Best tablet forward
Nokia, along with a few other device makers, has kept conspicuously quiet on its tablet strategy, and there’s a good reason for this but don’t tell anyone: very few companies have worked out how to make serious money out of tablets, aside of Apple, Samsung and Asus. For a handset maker whose future looked uncertain, diving into the market with a reactionary tablet simply to have a product out there would have been the wrong move and would have likely hurt the company financially, as well as damaging its reputation further when it inevitably flopped.
What this means is that since the first iPad redefined what the tablet market would look like for the coming years in 2010, Nokia has had nothing to offer its fans. Still, there have been plenty of others to keep us busy, many of which weren’t very good and went on to die their own natural deaths. Remember the HTC Flyer? It didn’t do very well, by most accounts.
At least, at the end of last year HTC wasn’t committing to launching any more tablets in the near future and had already previously canned plans for an RT-based device, so it seems it too would rather wait until the market matured a bit before dipping its toes into the costly waters again. Also like Nokia, HTC has been battling to whip its balance sheet into better shape. Samsung did the same with its RT tablet at the beginning of the year.
Windows RT FTW?
To wait so long for Nokia to finally release a tablet, and then have it be a Windows RT (again, if rumors are correct) is a crushing disappointment. I used a Surface RT for a while when they launched; it was great hardware and virtually useless for my needs. I won’t blather on about all the reasons it was unsuitable, the RT’s shortcomings are well-documented enough already. And from the leaked specs (10.1-inch display, 2/3GB RAM, 32GB on-board storage) and pictures, if this Nokia tablet is legit, it appears to be a Surface RT-alike.
Which is exactly why Nokia making its own is a mistake. What the company needs, and what fans of the brand need, is reassurance that after a pretty major blip, things are back on track and looking bright for the future. Windows RT doesn’t say this, and unless it can buck the trend of other device makers that have rolled out RT devices only to see them flop, it won’t help the bottom line either.
I could see some sense in delivering a full Windows-based tablet, rather than the cut-down RT version, but to opt for a platform that has failed to prove a hit with manufacturers and buyers alike is madness. It was only this time last week that Asus said it was going to stop trying to make Windows RT tablets altogether. If you remember, Asus was one of the few names on the list of tablet makers actually making money from them, and it’s decided not to bother trying with RT anymore.
Hell, even Microsoft’s chief executive Steve Ballmer revealed that the company was having to take a $900 million hit in its most recent financials due to Surface RT “inventory adjustments”. Basically, it made too many of something no one wanted. Slashing the price drastically, which Microsoft did, isn’t going to increase demand, though it might sell a few more units here and there.
So, quite why Nokia would choose to walk this route is beyond me – perhaps using RT makes it eligible for platform support payments in the same way that using Windows Phone does?
Don’t misunderstand, I want Nokia to bring a tablet to market. The hardware maker still makes things that look and feel different to anyone else, and that’s exactly what I want to see in a tablet. But, what I don’t want to see under-the-bonnet is a half-baked, stripped-back OS that won’t even let me install my Web browser of choice.
I want a Nokia tablet, I just hope this isn’t the first one I see.
Featured Image Credit – Thinkstock