Nokia’s efforts to parlays its expertise as the world’s largest phone maker into an even greater hold on mobile computing continues, today revealing some tantalizing details on its upcoming Booklet 3G netbook PC.
The company today said that it’s partnered with U.S. carrier AT&T and retail giant Best Buy for the launch of its netbook. The device will carry an introductory price tag of $299.99 with a two-year AT&T Data Connect plan, with pre-orders accepted started Oct. 22 and store sales kicking off in mid-November.
Nokia (NYSE: NOK) showed off the Booklet 3G in late August, but at the time had not disclosed pricing, carrier or release dates.
One other detail the mobile phone giant dropped: The netbook will be based on Microsoft’s Windows 7 OS, which is also slated for consumer availability on Oct. 22.
“Nokia understands mobility like no other company and recognizes that the most ‘powerful’ device is the one that doesn’t have you running for the power plug or network point,” Nokia CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo said in a statement. “By combining the Booklet’s sleek design, impressive features and competitive price together with the new Windows 7 operating system from Microsoft, AT&T’s nationwide 3G coverage and Best Buy’s unmatched national retail footprint, we believe we have a winning combination for U.S. consumers.”
Nokia’s netbook comes as the Finnish company executes a plan to transform itself from being primarily a phone maker to a major seller of mobile services, applications and portable Internet devices beyond handsets.
Under the plan, Nokia has recently scooped up several complementary tech boutique firms, specializing in geotargeted ads and private social networking. It’s also updated the SDK for its Symbian OS apps for its revamped mobile apps store, Ovi.
On the hardware side, the company has unveiled plans for an open-source portable Internet device, the N900, and has begun selling carrier-subsidized handsets in the U.S., raising its ability to appeal to consumers with lower prices than its former direct-sales model allowed.
Nokia also has been busy striking deals with other heavy hitters in mobile technology: Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) and Intel.
The alliance with Microsoft means Office Mobile applications will be ported to run on Nokia’s Symbian OS, while the partnership with Intel means that Nokia’s mobile devices, such as the Booklet 3G, will be powered by Intel’s chips.
Nokia makes a PC
Given those deals, it should come as no surprise that the Booklet 3G runs on an Intel Atom chip and Windows 7. The device weighs 2.7 pounds, sports a 10-inch display, includes HSPA and Wi-Fi connectivity as well as an HDMI port for HD video out, a camera, GPS and Bluetooth. It will come preloaded with the suite of Ovi services, Nokia’s overarching brand for its mobile applications and services.
“Our alliance with Nokia is advancing on multiple fronts and the Nokia Booklet 3G is an important step,” said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in a statement. “We are excited with Nokia’s decision to launch its first PC with Windows 7. By combining the value and simplicity of the operating system with the all-day mobility of the Nokia Booklet 3G, we are bringing new and valuable experiences to consumers and businesses.”
The introduction of a Windows-based mini laptop has huge implications for the future of mobile, according to a research note by Avi Greengart, an analyst with Current Analysis.
“When Nokia starts building Windows PCs, the difference between computing and communications — and which vendors play in which markets — is not just blurred, it is now officially gone,” Greengart wrote. “This change has been building for a while: Apple’s phone business was more successful last quarter than its Macs, Dell is (unofficially) making smartphones for sale in China, HP is (quietly, but officially) making smartphones for sale globally, and many of the leading phone vendors are parts of conglomerates with PC divisions, such as Samsung, LG, and Sony.”
For Nokia, Greengart said the move will help it compete stateside.
“If Nokia can produce a volume winner on the PC side, it could appreciably help its efforts to get consumers to use its Ovi services, which Nokia needs to combat competing services ecosystems from Google, Apple, and Microsoft.”