It's very early to say whether Nokia might make a success of its venture into PCs but the launch of the Booklet 3G netbook has got me thinking about the opportunity for Finnish insurgency.
Before this though, a historical note. Some have described this as Nokia's debut in the PC market but those of a certain age will remember Nokia Data Systems as a quite popular PC vendor of the early 1990s, distinguished by two tendencies. First, it was a pioneer in steering the industry towards egonomics. Second, it made computers in colours other than beige. So unusual was this latter point that when Peter Bonfield (later to lead BT at its nadir and earn the prefix 'Sir' for his troubles) was asked in 1991 why his company ICL was buying Nokia Data, he answered with characteristic brevity pluck "because they make mauve computers".
The Nokia of today is a very different company of course, having become a powerhouse in mobile data. The company sees its role in this life as "connecting people" and therefore sees logic in a small-format PC with support for a broad set of communications protocols. Like Google, Nokia sees with bit-centric eyes and wants to sell a device that sends and receives a lot of data.
In a world where the browser and email client are probably the most important elements of end-user computing, a low-cost mobile PC that promises strong tools for accessing remote information makes a stack of sense, The sales information for netbooks so far, however, suggests that not everyone in the corporate sector is persuaded.
Enter Nokia, bringing a powerful brand and fine engineering. But what might give it more of a shot would be to apply the mobile phone model to large businesses. A PC with flexible tariffs and marketed on a rent-not-buy basis could be popular. Being able to swap out PCs in much the same way as handsets might be a powerful notion for many prospective buyers and Nokia already has a foot in the door of many blue-chips. Perhaps that opportunity explains why the booklet runs Windows and not some Linux variant.