Today, Apple thoroughly dominates the tablet space, and a couple of other pseudo-competitors (Amazon and Barnes & Noble) arguably are successfully extending the tablet market by targeting individuals who aren’t as likely to buy an iPad.
Put another way: despite the efforts of companies like RIM and Samsung, only one non-content-oriented device maker sells a ton of tablets.
That, however, apparently isn’t going to stop Nokia from trying to produce a tablet of its own. According to Reuters, Nokia’s design chief Marko Ahtisaari told a Finnish magazine that “we are working on it” when asked about the company’s plans to get into the tablet space.
Crazy? If Nokia plans to follow the blueprint created by RIM and Samsung, then yes, it would appear to be an idea of questionable quality.
But fortunately for the company, it doesn’t appear that’s the plan. While the company is refusing to say much, Reuters notes that Nokia’s CEO has “stressed the need for a different approach to numerous rivals trying to battle against the dominance of Apple’s iPad.”
What will that different approach consist of? The most obvious differentiator will likely be at the OS level. Nokia’s partnership with Microsoft all but assures that Nokia’s tablet(s) will run Windows 8, which Microsoft has redesigned from the ground up to be touch-friendly. In fact, Microsoft seems so determined to ace the touch experience that it’s risking another Windows Vista flop on the desktop side by prepping the release of an OS that looks very different from anything Windows users have seen before.
With this in mind, Nokia’s fate in the tablet space probably rests with Microsoft more than it does with itself. If Windows 8 proves popular, and Microsoft is able to lure developers to build apps for its Windows Store, Nokia’s close ties with Redmond could help it become the top Windows 8 tablet maker, just as those ties have made it easy for Nokia to quickly become the top producer of Windows Phone devices.
But if Windows 8 flops, it will need something compelling — perhaps impossibly so — to have any shot in the tablet market.