Today, Nokia announces its first netbook, called the Nokia Booklet 3G (press release, Nokia blog post). Like all netbooks, the Nokia Booklet 3G is essentially a miniature laptop PC and has more capability in common with the PC than with handheld devices like mobile phones. Despite misinformed advance speculation, the Booklet will run Windows and has an impressive claimed battery life of 12 hours.
In the flesh, the Booklet 3G has a neat modern design and a modern
metallic appearance case. The screen and keyboard are both relatively
large and well-proportioned.
Mobile operators are increasingly looking to extend their early successes in the mobile broadband market. This is the Booklet's key differentiator: unlike almost all other netbooks, Nokia's has an internal mobile broadband card with a SIM slot. Other netbooks rely on external USB mobile broadband modems for Internet access. The presence of this internal wireless modem is why the Booklet 3G is a natural extension to Nokia's traditional phone handset product range.
Unlike most of Nokia's key phone handset rivals — such as Samsung, LG, Apple — Nokia does not sell laptops today, and so is in danger of being outflanked by other handset makers that do offer laptops. Nokia will use the Booklet to support their operator customers and discourage them from taking rival handset makers' netbooks.
Nokia's challenge with the Booklet 3G will be how to communicate the offering in the market. Over the last couple of months Nokia has had to rebut repeated rumours which are at odds with its current strategy. The name of this netbook, the "Booklet" makes the device sound more like a MID or Internet tablet running a custom version of Linux, rather than the contemporary Windows netbook PC that is the Booklet. Additionally, Nokia now faces new and different competitors for the Booklet that are strong in the laptop PC space such as Dell, HP and Sony that are weak or non-existent players in mobile phones.
Nokia's first Netbook deserves to do well. But Nokia must work hard to gain traction in this new product category.