Nokia Windows 8 tablet coming in June 2012?

Nokia logoIn an interview with French newspaper Les Échos, Paul Amsellem, head of Nokia France, said that the company would have a tablet running Windows 8 in June 2012.

As is typical with this kind of comment, Nokia PR's official line is "we have not announced any specific plans as it relates to tablets"; nonetheless, it seems more likely than not that Nokia will be making Windows 8 tablets.

That Nokia is planning to build a Windows 8 tablet is not surprising. Talking to Bloomberg earlier this year, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop said that Windows 8 will "change the dynamics" of the tablet market, and that there was a "new tablet opportunity coming." Though he did not announce any plans to produce a tablet at the time, he certainly didn't rule it out either.

Nokia is no newcomer to the tablet scene. Its Linux-on-ARM 770, N800, and N810 tablets were early attempts to produce an Internet tablet of the kind that Apple has popularized. With the viability of the tablet market now proven, Nokia's close partnership with Microsoft, and the "new opportunity" by Windows 8, the time is right for the Finns to have another stab at the market with a Windows 8 device.

What is surprising is the apparent timing. Windows 8 is a major update to the Windows platform that's not yet even in beta, with most observers estimating a fall 2012 release. Windows' end-user availability has generally lagged the software's completion and release to manufacturing (RTM) by a month or three. If this pattern holds true, it would put the RTM no later than March or April. This would require a hugely condensed beta and release candidate process, and for a release of Windows 8's scale, that's hard to believe.

The bulk of the interview was about Nokia's phone strategy in France and beyond. Just two years ago, Nokia commanded a 25 percent market share in France. This has now dropped to 16 percent. Samsung, with a 40 percent share, is now France's biggest phone OEM. Nokia hopes to improve its position by targeting the 60 percent of French people who currently don't own a smartphone at all.

Today's release of the Lumia 800 is the first step in this process. Amsellem likened the Lumia 800 to a BMW 5 Series, saying that Nokia would later deliver a lower-end 3 Series and a higher-end 7 Series to round out its offering. The 3 Series equivalent is presumably the Lumia 710 that will be available in Europe by the end of the year. Rumors of a higher-end Nokia offering codenamed "Ace" have circulated for some months. Though nothing concrete is known about Ace's specification or features, the interview does at least confirm that a high-end Nokia Windows Phone is in development, and that the Ace rumors are, at least in spirit, correct.

While it's still very early days for Nokia's Windows Phone offerings, initial indications are promising. WinRumors is reporting that Orange UK has received more preorders for the Lumia 800 than for any prior Nokia handset, including big-sellers like the N95. Nokia has been advertising heavily, and Orange is offering an aggressive promotion that gives qualifying upgrading customers a free Xbox 360 if they order a Lumia 800. Chatter about AT&T picking up Lumia handsets for a first-quarter 2012 US launch is increasing as well.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: Nokia, tablets, Windows 8

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