Nokia readies N900 and Booklet follow-ups at lower prices ?

by Caroline Gabriel, Rethink Wireless

Nokia has made it clear recently that its Maemo Linux variant will take an increasingly important role in the product portfolio, emerging from its former niche on the internet tablet range.

While Symbian remains the key OS for smartphones and midrange handsets, Maemo will appear in a wide range of devices, especially those in new form factors like smartbooks, and those for the difficult US market. In the wake of the launch of the Maemo-based N900 – a smartphone/tablet hybrid – Nokia is already reported to be planning a cutdown version for next year, as well as cheaper netbooks.??

According to a research note from UBS analyst Maynard Um, the upcoming Maemo smartphone is planned for mid-2010 and would target iPhone-class handsets far more directly than the premium N900. This could cause confusion in terms of product segmentation within the rest of the N Series, which is Symbian based, but Nokia probably has its eye on the attachment to Linux smartphones in certain parts of the world, notably north America.??

“Nokia cited that it expects to have a mass market iPhone competitor in [the second half of 2010] based on Maemo which we believe is a recognition that the ability to rely solely on the more standardized Symbian to compete is limited,” Um wrote in his investor note, though Nokia would not comment beyond telling FierceWireless: “We are absolutely committed to Symbian as our smartphone platform.”??

A lower priced product in the new Booklet 3G range is also anticipated by many sources. The first model, which runs Windows 7 on an Intel Atom chip, is just shipping and has attracted strong reviews for almost all its qualities – except its €600 price tag. While keeping this device as a premium product, Nokia is expected to create a simpler version for the mass market, and will probably run on the next generation, lower powered Atom, codenamed Pine Trail. This will cut cost, power consumption and footprint by integrating the memory controller and graphics processor on one chip.??

Nokia’s ODM partner for the current Booklet is Compal but it may seek a second source for a new model to increase its capacity and introduce competition into it supply chain.

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