Nokia 770: Not As Bad As It Seems

Nokia 770, the new Internet tablet has elicited a very mixed reaction from those who care for such things. Before I get ahead of myself, Nokia 770 is like a mini-tablet PC, which has no cellular connectivity, runs on a TI processor, and uses Linux OS. It has a nice screen that can display 800 X 480 web pages on an Opera browser, can do email via a digital pen, instant messaging, and even perhaps streaming audio and video. It connects to the Internet using a WiFi connection and also has bluetooth connectivity.
The most common reaction to Nokia 770 is that of slight confusion, as expressed by Russell Beattie. Beattie, is known for his Nokia bias, as I am for my preference for iPod. So his comments cannot be taken lightly. Admittedly, my initial reaction was: people have we not learnt from the colossal disasters like Audrey and SmartTablet? Then thinking over it, and reading a lot about the device, and going back and reading Russell’s free-flowing piece, it became clear that he was looking at these device from a mobile phone perspective.

This thing sure looks like a PDA. I mean, a pen!?!? You’ve got to be kidding me. The most popular devices lately are those with little keyboards. Pens are so mid-90s. Why no cellular connectivity?

A couple of observations: read-write web and the tiny keyboards he talks about, are a North American phenomenon. Blackberry, Treo and other stuff put together still doesn’t add-up to 5 million units total. Most countries outside of NA region tend to have a lot more “pen” based computing. Secondly, from what I understand, this is a device that is more of a peripheral of a PC than a laptop replacement or a mobile phone. It is targeted at broadband enabled, wifi homes. Its primary job is to provide instant-on access to do four or five basic Internet related tasks anywhere inside the house.
It is a device which has the right idea at the right moment. Research shows that WiFi usage inside homes is only going to increase. There will be 160 million broadband enabled, networked homes by 2010, according to The Diffusion Group. This trend offers opportunities to sell devices specially designed for this type of environment.
Russell, and others have bemoaned that Nokia is going to have to support yet another OS. Given the track record, you could put me in that camp. However, the linux under pinnings make it more extensible. I think there will be more hacks for this device very quickly. With WiFi becoming common place, at least on school and college campuses, this one has a potential with the next generation.