Nokia and RIM promise new tablets, but no timelines
Outgoing Nokia chairman pledges host of new devices, and claims the firm can weather yet another storm
Published: 4 May, 2012
Investors are getting frustrated that both Nokia and RIM - each battling through a difficult transition to new platforms - repeatedly promise great things, but find it hard to put concrete dates and details on their plans. RIM CEO Thorsten Heins used this week's BlackBerry World developer event to preview BlackBerry 10 and pledge and LTE PlayBook tablet, but timescales remained vague. And the same went for outgoing Nokia chairman Jorma Olilla, who echoed statements by CEO Stephen Elop that the Finnish firm would not rely just on its new Lumia range for its comeback, but would release a wide range of devices, including tablets and 'hybrids' for the emerging web-based world.
No hint, though, of when these products would appear. Nokia is already very late into the tablet game, which lacks the volumes of the handset market but is important for profile and for attracting premium customers and carrier deals. It will need to be, by contrast, ahead of the curve in the next generation of mobile gadgets, even though the jury is still out on which form factors will become mainstream - cloudbooks, hybrid tablet/notebooks, 'phablets' and so on.
But Olilla had nothing to offer in terms of timescales for Nokia to venture beyond handsets, just promising that the firm would venture into the new segments. He conceded that Nokia had been too slow in responding to the iPhone - a failure which began under his watch as CEO, though his successor Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo tends to get most of the blame. But he told an interview with the UK Financial Times that the company was changing, that it was executing faster, and that new products and services will "make a difference".
"Tablets are an important one, so that is being looked into, and there will be different hybrids, different form factors in the future," he said. It is assumed that the company's first tablet will run Windows 8, which would mean a Christmas launch at the very earliest.
Olilla himself is stepping down as chairman after 27 years with Nokia. Shareholders are scheduled to vote on his replacement. His long tenure at least gives him some perspective on current troubles since he has weathered at least five crises during his time at the company, including a crisis meeting demand in 1995, and has often spoken of the culture of survival at the company, going right back to world and civil wars in Finland. He was responsible, in 1992, for taking the then-bold step of paring down Nokia's very diverse business activities and focusing only on mobile technology. He preserved a distinctly Finnish culture, which is now being changed by the influence of Canadian CEO Elop. But Olilla, despite long periods spent in the US, retains the outlook of his homeland. In the interview he said: "Look outside, the first of May, snow is just about gone but you learn to be pretty down to earth as you know in October it will be back again." he said.
Over at RIM, Heins confirmed that a long awaited LTE version of the underperforming PlayBook tablet would hit the market "later this year," - but declined to provide more details.