Nokia's tablet path may exclude Microsoft: source

LONDON Mon Mar 21, 2011 12:49pm EDT

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LONDON (Reuters) - Nokia's strategy for entering the tablet computer market may not include Microsoft, its recently announced partner for smartphones, according to a person with knowledge of the company's thinking.

The Finnish cellphone maker is still considering its options for tablets and these include MeeGo, a platform Nokia has been jointly developing with Intel, the source said.

Apple single-handedly created the tablet PC market with the launch of the iPad a year ago. It sold 15 million in 2010, while the iPad 2 that went on sale last week in the United States sold a million in its first weekend.

The market has quickly become crowded, with Samsung and Motorola launching their own tablets and Research in Motion and Hewlett-Packard set to follow soon.

But Nokia wants to get its first tablet right rather than rushing to join the party at this late stage, and hopes to come up with something distinctive that will also help it with strategies for other screens including television.

"That could include Microsoft, it may not," the source said.

Before deciding to throw in its lot with Microsoft, Nokia had been betting on MeeGo for high-end smartphones, as it struggled to regain ground lost to Apple's iPhone and a host of other smartphones based on Google's Android software.

Intel, which has long sought to establish a position in the wireless market, says it is now looking for new partners.

Microsoft is not expected to be ready with a tablet platform before late 2012. It would be based on its forthcoming Windows 8 PC operating system, rather than its Windows Phone software.

Any Nokia Windows tablet would also be based on the full Windows operating system, not Windows Phone.

(Editing by David Holmes)

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