Nokia: Tablet Comments Misconstrued, Company Still 'Watching the Space'

Outgoing Nokia Chairman Jorma Ollila commented that Nokia is "looking into" tablets and hybrid devices, which started media keyboards clattering. A Nokia spokesperson clarified, however, that Nokia is still just watching the space "with interest."

Nokia has a variety of products in the works, including tablets and tablet-smartphone hybrids, outgoing Chairman Jorma Ollila suggested to the Financial Times ahead of a May 3 shareholders meeting that will be Ollila€™s last. After the meeting€”and 27 years with Nokia€”Ollila will hand over the role to Finnish entrepreneur Risto Siilasmaa.

Ollila didn€™t offer a timetable for the devices, though it€™s been speculated that a tablet could arrive with Microsoft€™s Windows 8 sometime later this year.

€œTablets are an important one, so that is being looked into, and there will be different hybrids, different form factors in the future,€ Ollila said, according to Reuters.

A Nokia spokesperson, however, worked to dial back the comment.

€œWhat Mr. Ollila said has been misconstrued a bit €¦€ spokesperson Keith Nowak told eWEEK. €œAs we have been saying, we are watching the space with interest, but have made no announcements regarding a tablet product.€

It was during Olilla€™s tenure as CEO, from 1992 through 2006, that Nokia enjoyed the distinction€”in 1999€”of being the largest company in Europe by market value. Still, the Reuters report notes, Olilla faced tremendous criticism for not being a frontrunner when it came to smartphones, and a poll in Finland last week found 40 percent of analysts rate Olilla€™s 13-year term as chairman as €œpoor€ or €œunacceptable.€

Nokia began shipping a global line of Lumia smartphones this year. Introduced in late 2011, lower-end Lumia models went on sale early in the year, but the higher-end Lumia 900 didn€™t go on sale, on the AT&T network in the United States, until April 8. Like BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, Nokia faces do-or-die pressure not only to bring to market compelling devices, but to do so as quickly as possible.

In early April, Nokia warned investors of disappointing fiscal first-quarter results, and on April 19 it announced a net sales decrease of 29 percent year-over-year and a net loss of approximately $2 billion U.S. dollars.

During the earnings call, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop repeated for the umpteenth time that Nokia is working to pick up its pace. Laying out the final point in a five-point plan, Elop explained: €œWe are establishing a clear sense of urgency and increase in the clock speed of our company. Last week€™s news highlights that there is still a lot improvements ahead so that we can lead and not react to the competitive dynamics in the market. In totality, the intent of the strategy is to reaffirm Nokia€™s position of strength in the mobile industry. €¦€

During the first quarter of 2011, Samsung put an end to Nokia€™s 14-year reign as the global leader in mobile phone shipments, shipping 92 million phones during the quarter to Nokia€™s 83 million units, according to IHS iSuppli.

Separating out smartphones, Samsung shipped 32 million to Apple€™s 35 million and Nokia€™s 12 million, said IHS.

Of those, Nokia has said, more than 2 million were Lumia phones. While the figure pales beside the 35.1 million iPhones that Apple sold during the first three months of the year, IDC Francisco Jeronimo reminded the market of the need to give Nokia a little slack, if not kudos. €œIt took five quarters for Android to reach the 2 million€ shipments a quarter mark, Jeronimo told Reuters.

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