Nokia could tiptoe into the tablet market as the next step beyond its Windows Phone-based Lumia lineup.
Nokia CEO Stephen Elop told reporters in Sydney, Australia, yesterday that the company is looking "very closely" at tablets but has yet to announce anything official, according to the Australian Financial Review.
"We are studying very closely the market right now as Microsoft has introduced the Surface tablet, so we are trying to learn from that and understand what the right way to participate would be and at what point in time."
Elop also dangled the possibility of an Android tablet, saying that there were benefits to the 7-inch screen size made popular by Android devices. When reporters asked whether Nokia would go Windows or Android, the CEO gave the nod to Windows. But a PR executive reminded him that no official decision has yet to be made, AFR revealed.
Still, a Windows tablet would be a logical choice given Nokia's relationship with Microsoft. The Finnish phone maker has spent the past year ramping up its Windows Phone Lumia devices. And despite the PR rep's cautious reminder, Elop played up the integration that would come from a Windows tablet.
"It is important to note that the opportunity for companionship is something that any user is looking for," Elop said. "So, when you think about the Lumia 920, running on Windows phone, having a Windows tablet or PC or Xbox is something that will give us the opportunity to have a pretty integrated experience. Our first focus on what we look at is clearly in the Microsoft side."
This isn't the first time that Nokia has dropped hints about a Windows tablet. In an October 2011 interview with the Financial Times, Elop teased the idea of a Windows tablet, pointing to a "clear synergy" with the Nokia Lumia environment running on tablets and PCs in the future.
And in November 2011, the head of Nokia in France claimed that the company would have a Windows 8 tablet on the market by June 2012.
So far, it's been all talk and no tangible product. But a Nokia Windows tablet could be much closer than Elop is letting on.
Recent rumors suggest the company might launch a Windows RT tablet early this year. If the reports are true, the 10.1-inch tablet would come with a special keyboard cover equipped with its own battery. Carried by AT&T, the device would also offer a cellular connection along with HDMI and USB ports.
Of course, Nokia would face the same competition with tablets that it does with smartphones. Both markets are dominated by Apple and Android. Instead, Nokia is looking to challenge BlackBerry for third place in the smartphone wars.
Elop played up the number and variety of apps designed for Lumia phones as superior to those available for BlackBerry. Nokia now offers around 125,000 apps, compared with just 6,000 when the first Lumia phones debuted, according to the CEO.
But BlackBerry World may hold about the same number. Last September, BlackBerry announced that its store was home to around 105,000 apps.