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Nokia 'actively looking' at own netbook

Cat-skinning time?

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Nokia could follow service providers into netbook territory, by offering a machine of its own.

President and chief executive Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo is reported to have said in India: "We at Nokia is [sic] actively looking at this converged market... We are looking at the netbook market to see what kind of opportunity is there."

If Nokia does deliver a device then it would join a trickle of other handset manufacturers also becoming netbook makers. So far, it's been OEMs like Asus and Dell, solidly versed in the build and delivery of PCs, who've made most of the running, building and selling netbooks.

A Nokia netbook would also mean the company enters a market that's being tested by the very service providers that typically sell its handsets.

AT&T and Verizon in the US and Orange and O2 in the UK have begun offering netbooks with data plans. These netbooks are from PC markers and consumer electronics companies like Samsung that make PCs and mobile phones.

Questions remain over what a Nokia netbook would literally look like - whether it would fit the template of a small form-factor notebook, or would Nokia opt for a tablet or a smart-phone inspired design with a large screen and soft keys.

Also, there'll be the question of operating system. Would a Nokia netbook run the giant's Symbian open-source operating system or would Nokia go with Windows or Linux?

It seems reasonable to assume Nokia would stick with Symbian, but try to make its netbook useful by running Microsoft applications. Nokia earlier this month announced a deal with Microsoft to put Office on its phones using native Symbian versions of Microsoft Office and also to extend web services such as SharePoint to devices. Office is due next year.

Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin has encouraged the PC markets in the past to become more like Nokia by selling customized and subsidized machines in this high-growth market. Zemlin has, naturally, championed the cause that netbooks should run Linux.

"Learn from Nokia - meld a kick ass, industrial design with customized software experience and have it subsidized by an alternative business model, be that subsidy or services offering, movies and entertainment - that's a better way to skin this cat," Zemlin told The Reg in March. ®

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