What Next for Nokia - Tablets?

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The Mobile World Conference (MWC) 2013 held at Barcelona saw Nokia (NYSE: NOK) announcing four new lower tier devices, which will again run on the Windows Phone 8 OS. While this is will give better reach to customers looking for Android alternatives, the announcement did leave a hinge of disappointment since there were a few rumors of a Nokia Windows 8 RT tablet in works.

Even though strategy analysts recently reported that Nokia would emphasize their smartphones and stay away from tablet production, I wouldn’t be surprised Nokia announces their much rumored Windows tablet in the near future. But would such a move be the next logical step for Nokia, or would it just be an unnecessary distraction to their focus on their Lumia smartphones?

Why does Nokia need to enter the tablet market?

First and foremost, Nokia’s partnership with Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) is nothing short of successful and I feel that they’ll be looking to make the most out of it again. It is rumored that Nokia is building its own Windows RT tablet, and just like Samsung tying up with Google and launching their own series of phones and tablets, Nokia would be looking to do the same. A Windows tablet powered by an x86 processor is what Nokia is rumored to be aiming at and since Intel is set to launch their Haswell-based tablet in June, Nokia might wait until then to launch their first tablet.

Following Microsoft Surface is a good idea

Microsoft Surface generated a lot of hype, especially with it being the perfect hybrid between a laptop and a tablet. But once it was launched, a few flaws like its disappointing battery backup and the unavailability of the device has hampered its sales figures. Nevertheless, the Surface Pro is one heck of a device that shrinks the thin line separating tablets and laptops. So, this is something Nokia should focus on creating, since it’s partnership with Microsoft gives it access to the world’s most used OS brand – Windows.

So, come to think of it, Nokia is actually better positioned than Samsung and the other Android tablet manufacturers since Windows 8 tablets can double up as a laptop replacement too. Stephen Elop (Nokia’s CEO) has stated that Nokia is working hard on creating its own identity and will not release products just for the sake of it. That’s very optimistic and also reinforces the speculation that Nokia’s tablets will be something along with Surface-hybrid lines.

Enterprise users are still there for the taking

A recent research has shown that IT workers prefer the iPhone over the Windows phones; but when it comes to tablets, 32% of these workers prefer a Windows tablet over iPads 26%. How does this help? Well, though consumers prefer a tablet priced at around $350, enterprise users can afford much more. So catering to the enterprise crowd can open up a new stream of revenue, but the logistics to pull this off is a whole other discussion.

Other concerns would be the fact that Microsoft’s Windows licensing costs a lot but just like Microsoft did with Surface, Nokia should sell accessories like keyboards which are high margin products along with add-ons any customer would require. The scope Nokia has for fetching revenue through the enterprise crowd is very high. Well, at least for now before someone else capitalizes on it.

Verdict

Nokia re-entered the mobile market at a time where Apple and Google were dominating, they wouldn’t want to risk it again with tablets this time. Companies are still trying to find a way to create a tablet that is powerful enough to completely replace a PC. A hybrid gadget running Windows 8 is what Nokia has in its hands and the potential market is not just consumers but for enterprise as well. Nokia fought its way through thick competition with the launch of their Windows phone and did a decent job at it as well, but that the tablet market is still up for grabs and a longer they take to set foot into it, the harder it becomes for them.

If Nokia does enter into the tablet segment, then it is definitely going to be a bumpy road but I feel this time Nokia will be well equipped to go full speed ahead.


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