ESPOO, Finland ( TheStreet.com) -- Nokia's ( NOK) me-too netbook move is late, wrong and yet somehow a sign of revitalization. After months of speculation, the Finnish phone shop said Monday that it will sell a 10-inch mini-laptop with built-in 3G wireless access and 12 hours of battery life.
The company will be calling on its connections with phone companies that help pay hefty subsidies on the so called "Nokia Booklet 3G" device. The bigger the telco contribution, the more consumers will presumably opt for cheap PCs with two-year data service plans. Using its manufacturing partnerFoxconn, Nokia is likely to get its name on devices in time for the holiday rush. But the puzzling lack of any special qualities seems to be a weak first step in Nokia's plan to catch up in mobile computing.
Netbooks sprang to popularity two years ago as outfits like Acer and Asus built stripped-down laptops with $300 price tags that fit tighter budgets. Nokia is plunging into a sea of netbooks. Today, eight of the top 10 best-selling computers on Amazon ( AMZN) are 10-inch netbooks, a list dominated by Asus and Acer.
Computer makers like Apple ( AAPL) and Dell ( DELL) have gone the other direction, by seizing the smartphone opportunity. Meanwhile, Nokia has enlisted Intel ( INTC) to supply its Atom chip for the device, which will run on Microsoft's ( MSFT) Windows operating system. Nokia - Love It or Leave It It certainly makes Nokia watchers wonder what happened to the pioneering mobile computing effort it had with its tablet, a touchscreen device that preceded the Apple iPod Touch by years.