Will Nokia Get into the Notebook Business?

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In an interview with Finnish broadcaster YLE, Nokia CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo noted his company is actively looking at the notebook computer market as the worlds of smartphones and portable computing continue to converge. Although Nokia has no experience building computers—and Kallasvuo didn’t indicate whether the company was considering traditional notebook or smaller netbook designs—Industry rumors have had Nokia looking at the notebook market for several months. Another unknown factor is whether Nokia would go with Symbian OS for a notebook device, or adopt a PC operating system.

Kallasvuo comments mirror sentiments from Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer regarding the convergence of mobile devices and portable computers, and come just a few weeks after computer maker Acer unveiled its first set of smartphone products.

Although not a dominant player in the North American market, Nokia is the number one maker of mobile handsets worldwide, with many of those units being entry-level devices sold in developing markets. As Kallasvuo noted in the YLE interview, “hundreds of millions” of people around the world are getting their first access to the Internet through mobile devices, and it may make sense for Nokia to take that one step further through a mobile computing device.

However, the market for notebook computers is notoriously competitive with several already-established manufacturers, and while the netbook segment is currently about the only part of the market experiencing sales growth, it also has razor-thin profit margins, which would seem to make it less attractive to a potential new player like Nokia. However, if the company is able to leverage its worldwide distribution and operator partnerships, Nokia may be able to quickly become a leading player in the mobile computing space on a global basis.

Nokia has not announced any mobile computing products or specifications, nor offered any indication when it may clarify its plans.

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