Nokia has just announced details of its new netbook, the Booklet 3G. It will be available in Q4, be priced at 575 Euros (>$800 U.S.) but it will be subsidized by many carriers. In the U.S., however, many netbooks are already practically given away by carriers ala the combo of phone plus service plans. The product boasts 12 hours of battery life, swappable SIM cards and …. well, that’s the rest of the story. We’re still waiting to hear about levels of differentiation between the Booklet and the countless (and growing number) of netbooks already on the market. The model of carrier plus device will not cut it with this new breed of devices; there must be some level of content differentiation in the form of premium services that are bundled on the home screen of the Booklet. A home for conditional access video via cable providers? The ultimate bundling of e-books and magazines?
The other part of the story is how Microsoft fits in here given Nokia’s new relationship with the Redmond software giant. The netbook is a safe place for Nokia and Microsoft to combine efforts because it does not inherently compete with Microsoft’s mobile phone plans. A joint Microsoft-Nokia OVI Store for content? Microsoft’s weak but growing “TV” plans may fit in nicely with the Booklet as a portable video device.
And where does Apple’s tablet plans fit in? Based on the details so far, Apple should not lose sleep over the Booklet announcement. Nokia will have an uphill battle in the U.S. to unseat Apple as the place where cool kids go for next-gen devices and the content that feeds those hungry monsters.