I’ve touched upon this Nokia concept device a number of times only because I find that it tells an interesting story about vision, innovation, and credit. Rarely do new products pop up out of the blue. All inspiration has a history attached.
Before the turn of the century (August 1999 at the IFA exhibition to be exact), Nokia introduced a working tablet prototype that drove tech journalists and open-source fans wild: a large, connected touch-screen device based on Linux. Users could surf the web, write e-mails and chat, and even catch the game via its built-in digital terrestrial receiver. All content was equal. The word "convergence" was all the rage at the time, and Nokia just redefined the term.
The device, known as “MediaScreen,” ran a UI layer Nokia called “Navibars,” which was in essence, an advanced and flexible menu system. Users could create bookmarks to television stations just as easily as they could to a website. Users could create folders which could hold broadcast links, web info, photos, and applications. A sports folder, for example, could contain videos of little Johnny’s football match, an icon for Eurosport TV, and the latest scores from the web.
And then what happened grandpa? Well, the dot.com bust didn’t help. Things became tight here and there and companies began to concentrate making-money ventures. Nobody knew how bad things could get. And the component costs must have been quite brutal at the time. But if I understand the evolutionary line correctly, MediaScreen did act as innovation for other Nokia projects and programs -- sort of a grandparent to a future generation of tablet-like devices such as the 770.
Timing can be a cruel dealer of the deck. Woody Allen once said 80% of success is showing up. But it’s really showing up at the right time. And showing off. When Apple’s iPad was first introduced, I called it Laptop2.0. Now, if I am reading this news correctly, Nokia has confirmed that the company will be entering the tablet market, although few details are provided. Will this be Nokia’s own 2.0.
Nokia’s “MediaScreen” tablet concept from 1999: