Nokia Launches Linux-Based Internet Tablet

Nokia introduced its first device in its new Internet Tablet category at the LinuxWorld Summit in New York today. The pocket-sized Nokia 770 Internet Tablet is a dedicated device optimized for Internet browsing and e-mail communications.

The Nokia 770 features a high-resolution (800×480) widescreen display with zoom and on-screen keyboard for viewing online content over WiFi. The device can also connect to the Internet utilizing Bluetooth wireless technology via a compatible mobile phone.

“We are very excited to introduce our first Nokia Internet Tablet device to the market. With the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet consumers can access broadband Internet services away from their desktop, for example in the backyard or at a cafe within a WiFi hotspot,” said Janne Jormalainen, vice president of Convergence Products, Multimedia for Nokia.

Linux Power

The device runs on Linux-based Nokia Internet Tablet 2005 software edition. Jormalainen said Linux was a logical because Linux and the open-source development platform offered Nokia fast and efficient solutions.

“This is the first step in creating an open-source product for broadband and Internet services,” Jormalainen said. “We will be launching regularly updates of the software. The next software release planned for the first half of next year will support more presence-based functionalities such as VoIP and Instant Messaging.”

Additional highlighted applications of the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet with the 2005 software include an Internet Radio, RSS News reader, Image viewer and Media players for selected types of media. The Nokia 770 Internet Tablet is planned to start shipping in the third quarter of 2005 in selected countries in the Americas and Europe with a US$350 price tag.

Radical Shift or Complimentary Product?

Does this mark a significant strategy shift for Nokia? Or can the company leverage its popular mobile phone brand to penetrate a new market?

Michael Gartenberg, an analyst with Jupiter Research, told LinuxInsider that the Internet Tablet offering is more of an extension of Nokia’s strategy rather than a radical departure from it.

“The Nokia 770 solves some interesting questions in usage scenarios for consumers when the cell phone might not be the most appropriate tool for sending e-mail or browsing the Web,” Gartenberg said. “This device extends the functionality of a cell phone so that if you are not near a WiFi network you can use your phone to get to the Internet via Bluetooth.”

Competitive Challenges

Analysts said Nokia’s challenge could be its $350 price point. That puts the Nokia 770 in the same category of a traditional PDA. Nokia’s success or failure will depend on consumer attitudes. After all, Palm’s LifeDrive mobile manager already offers a 4GB hard drive and built in WiFi and Bluetooth wireless support, albeit for about $150 more.

“What it really comes down to is going to be how well Nokia executes in terms of making the device simple to use and simple to connect to, what consumers want in a mobile device, and when they want to access this level of functionality,” Gartenberg said.

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