Nokia Preps Windows RT Tablet, Again: Report

Despite its own smartphone struggles, Nokia is taking a stab at the tablet market with a Windows RT device, according to a new report.

Nokia is readying a 10-inch tablet that will rival Microsoft's Surface RT tablet, according to a report from DigiTimes.

Sound familiar? That's because the Finnish handset maker was reportedly working on a Windows tablet in March, before Microsoft debuted the Surface and derailed Nokia's plans.

At the time, Nokia's tablet called for a dual-core Qualcomm processor and a 10-inch display. The first shipment would have numbered 200,000 units. Compal Electronics was to handle its manufacture.

Then in June, Microsoft debuted its own tablet, the Surface, prompting Nokia to take a step back and reevaluate the market.

In a rare move, Microsoft took a page from the Apple playbook and decided to produce its own hardware to showcase the software giant's touch-enabled, tablet-ready Windows 8 and RT operating systems. While it was met with a cautiously warm reception, a limited distribution strategy crimped sales in the wake of Surface RT's Oct. 26 launch.

Detwiler Fenton, a Boston-based brokerage firm, expects Microsoft to sell an estimated 500,000 to 600,000 Surface RT tablets during the current quarter—a sliver compared with the Apple iPad's consistently high sales figures. The firm also noted that Microsoft's distribution model was in "disarray."

Surface is barely a blip on the radar of Web-traffic trackers. Chitika, an online advertising network, claims that Microsoft's tablet is only generating 0.12 percent of all Web traffic in the United States and Canada.

Earlier this month, there were rumblings that Microsoft was preparing to expand Surface RT distribution beyond its own stores—both online and brick-and-mortar—to retailers like Best Buy and Staples. Indeed, Microsoft announced just such a move last week.

Despite Microsoft's woes, Nokia seems ready to take another stab at a Windows tablet. It's a curious move, considering that the company, once the top mobile handset maker, is struggling to stage a comeback with Microsoft's other mobile OS, Windows Phone.

Nokia announced in October that it had suffered a $1.8 billion loss during a bruising third quarter. The culprit? Intense competition from Apple's iPhone and devices running Google's Android OS. It didn't help matters that the company had no choice but to wait for the release of Windows Phone 8 and its flagship Lumia phones that run Microsoft's mobile OS.

After Nokia released those bleak financials, Canalys analyst Pete Cunningham told The New York Times, "This is probably the first time that I have started to doubt the Nokia comeback story. These numbers were poor and worse than I expected."

Nokia seems ready to give it another try, although perhaps it's a little more cautious this time. The DigiTimes article noted that the Nokia tablet is expected to make its first appearance in February at the 2013 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

The report hints that Nokia may trim the initial order from its original plans. "As the sales performance for Windows RT tablets has so far been short of expectations," the article stated, "Nokia is evaluating ordered volumes and has not yet decided on its marketing plans, the sources indicated."

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...