The reception for Nokia’s range of Windows Phones has been overwhelmingly positive, with its four Lumia handsets having already won numerous awards, and widespread accolades from media and users alike. Such is the strength of the company’s Windows Phone offering that many are hoping that Nokia will take the next logical step, and release a Windows-based tablet building on the design themes previewed on its Lumia 800 and 900 devices.
For its part, Nokia has been very coy when it comes to talking tablets. Back in December, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop said that the company “does not have an exact plan” when it comes to tablets. This week, a Nokia executive vice president, Niklas Savander, was similarly non-committal in discussing the company’s tablet roadmap, but made it clear to Pocket-lint that such devices would fit well into Nokia’s line-up.
“The tablet is an interesting market for someone like Nokia, because it is not cannibalising handset sales; it is cannibalising PC sales,” he said. Essentially, this means that Nokia has plenty to gain from adding a tablet to its range, as there is little risk of denting sales of its existing devices. Savander acknowledged this by referring to tablets as “a potential growth market for someone like Nokia”.
The challenge, then, will come down to two key factors: price, and the product itself. On the latter, Savander emphasised the need for differentiation: “If we are going to be in that market, we need to have a [different] point of view, because the 101st maker isn’t really a commercial or consumer proposition.” Nokia has attempted to differentiate its Windows Phones through distinctive hardware design, and by offering value-added software and services, such as its Nokia Music and Nokia Drive apps.
The company has also demonstrated that it’s not afraid to compete aggressively on price; it’s expected that the flagship Lumia 900 will be available for just $99.99 on a two-year contract when it launches on AT&T later this month, while the newly announced entry-level Lumia 610 will be available for just €189 EUR ($250 USD / £158 GBP) without a contract.
Savander’s assertion that “there are no plans” for Nokia to launch a tablet might be disheartening, but the company's close relationship with Microsoft, the considerable potential for sales growth, the apparent market enthusiasm for a Nokia tablet, and the increasing popularity of slates among consumers, collectively make a compelling case for it to release such a device.
Whatever they may be saying right now, a Nokia tablet seems inevitable.