Nokia, the world's largest maker of cell phones, could be preparing to enter the crowded Netbook market.
According to the Economic Times, Nokia CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo told reporters at a press event Wednesday in India, that "the PC and the mobile will continue to come closer and merge." He said Nokia sees a lot of opportunity in this convergence and he added that the company is "looking at the Netbook market to see what kind of opportunity is there."
It shouldn't come as a big surprise that Nokia might push further into the computing space. The company has been marketing its new smartphone, the N97, as a "mobile computer." And the company has also been selling its mobile Internet devices, or N-series Tablets.
These devices, which are geared toward early adopters and gadget lovers, typically start at around $300 to $400. They don't incorporate a traditional cell phone, but they come with a full QWERTY keypad and access to the Internet via Wi-Fi or through a Bluetooth-connected phone.
Netbooks appeal to a wider audience than mobile Internet devices, which could help Nokia diversify its business. Netbooks, which once were seen as "companion devices" for accessing cloud-based services like Gmail or social-networking sites like Facebook, are now being used as full-blown computers.
Their low cost (around $299) has driven big sales of these devices. About 16 million Netbooks were sold in North America in 2008. And because these devices often use Windows XP, a familiar operating system, most PC users already feel comfortable using them.
Nokia is likely hoping to cash in on Netbooks' popularity.
It's clear that consumers are looking to be more mobile and as carriers around the world build faster 4G wireless networks, demand for mobility will likely increase. What's more, Nokia and other handset makers will soon be facing competition from computer makers in the mobile phone market. Laptop maker Acer has already announced it is developing a smartphone. And there are reports that PC maker Dell is also working on a mobile phone.