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Nokia today unveiled its Booklet 3G “mini-laptop”, or what most of the world would call a netbook (see above and video below).
As previously flagged, there was no killer point of differentiation.
Sure, as its name suggests, the Booklet 3G has a built-in cellular broadband radio (and wi-fi and GPS).
But so does the Dell netbook currently being sold by Vodafone, and the Toshiba netbook about to be announced for XT by Telecom.
Other specs, such as an Intel Atom processor, 10.1-inch screen and Windows 7 are standard fare for a netbook (see the full specs here).
While the bundled Ovi software holds a lot of meaning for Nokia, it's little known to the world outside. And the new Ovi Lifecast feature - which lets you update your Facebook status from a cellphone screen - looks slick, and is a good move. But again, it's barely original - although the addition of GPS will help sat-nav technology jump into the mainstream portable market.
It would have been good to see Nokia pull a stunt on the level of Sony, which recently announced it would put Google's Chrome browser on its laptops (read: Sony adds a little Chrome).
A commercial advantage?
The Wall Street Journal is touting Nokia's close links with phone companies, and the potential for steeply discounted netbooks as a lure to hook people onto multi-year contracts. Hello - that's what Vodafone is already doing in New Zealand, and elsewhere, with the Dell Inspiron (sold for zero dollars up front on a two-year, $75/month 1GB plan). Expect Telecom to run similar deals on netbooks from Toshiba (and soon HP and Lenovo).
Certainly, the Nokia Booklet 3G will need some bundling deals.
Its price $US644 ($NZ902) is right at the upper-end of the netbook range. Local pricing and release details are not yet to hand.
Ovi vs the web
Nokia is going to push tie-ins to its Ovi online store - today it announced the Booklet 3G would come bundled with Ovi Suite 2 and an Ovi maps gadget - but I’m not sure that’s a killer app. Ovi - and the general philosophy of Nokia moving to generate 50% of its revenue from software and services is a good one for the AppStore age. But when using a Windows netbook, people are attuned to accessing the internet at large, and its entire universe of software and services.
Nokia is right to diversify its hardware beyond cellphones, and to look to transition toward making half its revenue from software and services.
But while a smart piece of kit, the Booklet 3G isn't about to ignite any revolution.