Grainy images of an unidentified Nokia tablet are have surfaced on the Internet. According to My Nokia Blog, the device appears to be running MeeGo, the operating system that Nokia announced it was developing with Intel nearly a year ago, at the 2010 Mobile World Congress. More contested is whether the device is a prototype for a coming-to-market iPad competitor or just a development device that the Nokia and Intel teams are using among themselves.
The images capture the device in video-player mode, which reveals little. An airplane image in the screen's top left corner, as SlashGear points out, suggests it's in airplane mode-implying that integrated WiFi and Bluetooth are likely on board, in addition to a flavor of 3G/UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) connectivity.
In October, Doug Fisher, vice president of Intel's Software and Solutions Group, told Forbes that Intel and Nokia were pleased with the pace of MeeGo's development and that smartphones and tablets running the operating system would arrive in the first half of 2011. An exception is the WeTab, a Flash-supporting tablet with an 11.6-inch display and a 1.66GHz Intel Atom "Pineview" processor.
Over at Nokia, lips are sealed about the company's plans for the 2011 Mobile World Congress, kicking off Feb. 14 in Barcelona, but the WeTab will be on display at the show, along with other MeeGo and Intel Atom-running devices.
Intel and Nokia-an interesting matchup-have each fumbled in the consumer mobile market. At an Oct. 5, 2010, talk in New York, Intel CEO Paul Otellini admitted that the company had been slow to recognize a growing opportunity. "I wish I had been smart enough to start [working on smartphone processors] seven years ago because we'd be in a good position today, but I wasn't," he said.
Nokia, meanwhile-despite still being the top-selling phone maker worldwide-has had a hard time competing against Apple and Google at the high-end of the U.S. smartphone market.
"It is well-publicized that we are working to regain leadership in the U.S. market, and we are in active discussions with our operator partners on that strategy," Laurie Armstrong, Nokia communications director, told eWEEK Jan. 20, following rumors that Nokia had called off an exclusive deal with AT&T, fearing that its new X7 smartphone wouldn't "receive enough marketing and subsidies support" from the carrier, according to the Wall Street Journal.
That Nokia and Intel should have a tablet on the way-possibly the photographed device-puts them in the popular company of Nokia smartphone competitors Apple, Research In Motion, Samsung, HTC and Motorola, to name just a few.
Research firm IDC, in a Jan. 18 report, said it expects tablet sales to "accelerate significantly" during the first quarter of this year before finishing with shipments of 44.6 million units. In 2012, that figure is expected to climb to nearly 71 million units.
Consulting firm Deloitte, in a report released the same day, summed up the tablet craze by calling 2011 a "tipping point" for sales of the devices, which are all chasing the success of the Apple iPad. In the third quarter of 2010, Apple controlled 87.4 percent of the worldwide tablet market, according to IDC.