Alongside a pair of oversized phones, Nokia this week unveiled its first ever tablet, the Lumia 2520 Nokia’s new tablet will become one of only two in-production tablets to run Microsoft’s Windows RT operating system, the other of which is made by Microsoft who, as we know, are currently in the process of buying Nokia’s mobile division. The launch also coincides with the recently unveiled iPad Air, certain to become the market leader in the not too distant future. So what place is there in the market for a Nokia tablet? Does it stack up to the competition?
First of all, the basics. The 10.1” tablet will run Windows 8.1 RT, developed especially for ARM architecture, which means when compared Microsoft’s Surface Pro offering you’ll get better battery life – up to 10 hours, according to Nokia – but have to sacrifice some compatibility with the more powerful apps for Windows 8. The 1080p display features Nokia’s ClearBlack filter, which reduces glare when out in sunlight, and the tablet features both USB 3.0 and HDMI ports on its side. All in all it’s a highly specced tablet and will certainly hit Microsoft’s Surface 2 for six in that department, although it arguably falls short of the iPad Air, particularly when it comes to Apple’s Retina Display.
What’s more interesting though is why Nokia would choose to release this tablet and head directly into competition with Microsoft, who as I mentioned are all but the same company, and at the very least have each others best interests in mind. Steven Elop, former CEO of Nokia and now heading up the products department at Microsoft, insists that the aim is to get Windows into as many hands as possible, yet personally I can’t see this move aiding in that. In the smartphone market, Android was able to gain major traction in the market by flooding stores with devices of all shapes, sizes, and from most manufacturers; consumers, faced with a dozen options, eleven of which being Android, inevitably have a higher probability of backing Google. However, simply placing two competing tablets into a market that already has a household name in the iPad seems like taking a twig to a sword fight.
There is a higher level issue within the tablet market for me, though, that both Microsoft and Nokia will struggle to overcome. The mobile phone market existed long before the emergence of smartphones, and more importantly the iPhone. The tablet market was barely an embryo, particularly for consumers, before the iPad. The iPad immediately seized a status as what a tablet is and was. I was often even questioned as to whether my Kindle was an iPad at first, testament to how ubiquitous Apple’s tablet was, and remains to be. It’s been incredibly tough for Android tablets to make inroads into Apple’s domination of the tablet market, which may open a small gateway for others to enter the market as it becomes more diverse, but still there seems to be a general attitude that anything other than an iPad is a ‘fake iPad’, in a sense, an attitude that certainly doesn’t exist in the smartphone market.
It’s certainly a tough battle for Nokia to gain a foothold in the tablet market, and so for me it just seems an odd time to be competing with its only ally. Certainly though, the Lumia 2520 is looks the part and will certainly be a quality machine.