Nokia aiming to take anonymity out of netbooks

Tony Cripps/Ovum
27 Aug 2009

Nokia’s foray into the burgeoning market for netbooks marks the handset giant’s first engagement with the Wintel pairing that dominates the PC space. Will Nokia’s brand provide the impetus it needs to stand out in a market that has rapidly commoditized, or is the awkwardly-named Nokia Booklet 3G a careful toe in the water ahead of more ambitious plans in the category?

This would look like a bad move were it not for Nokia’s undeniable brand power in the mobile telecoms industry. As it is, Nokia could easily establish itself as a significant player in the netbook space, particularly those that feature an embedded mobile broadband modem.

Nokia’s strategy appears to be one of adding what new features it can to the Booklet and then using its channel influence in the mobile telecoms value chain to achieve significant volumes and keep down the final cost to end users.

Certainly the Booklet does offer some features that are as yet uncommon in the netbook space, most notably A-GPS, embedded HSPA, HDMI video output and an aluminium chassis. But without subsidy and high volume shipments these could work against it in a market that is already highly price-sensitive.

Netbook OEMs are already finding it difficult to differentiate and remain competitive. The typical netbook combination of Intel’s low-powered Atom chip and a cut-back Windows XP, along with very thin margins (although Microsoft has been attempting to claw some of this back through more favorable licensing terms for itself for Windows XP), means that adding any extra features is potentially a very risky move.

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