Nokia may have initially been shrugged off as a has-been in the smartphone business, due to the demise of its former flagship Symbian operating system in deference to Android and iOS. But, with its partnership with Microsoft, Nokia might soon be on its way to be a formidable smartphone brand again, particularly after launching its Windows Phone 7-powered Lumia smartphones. With plans to launch Windows 8 tablets on the horizon, will Nokia likewise be a challenge to the iPad's dominance?

Nokia's marriage with Microsoft involves not only its smartphone business, it seems. Reports from suppliers and upstream component suppliers in Asia indicate plans by the Finnish company to manufacture and launch tablet computers before the year ends. According to DigiTimes, Nokia is teaming up with Microsoft anew for the development and production of a 10-inch tablet computer powered by Windows 8 for launch by 4th quarter of 2012.

Nokia is expected to outsource the production of its 10-inch tablet computers to Taiwanese ODM company Compal Electronics -- with main production facility in Kunshan, China -- and the initial order is rumored to be at least 200,000 units.

ARM Platform Tablets, Windows-Powered

Remember that Microsoft intended the Windows 8 platform to be both touch- and keyboard-friendly. This might just be their big break, particularly with Nokia's reputation for high-quality industrial design. But it doesn't end there. More important, Nokia and Microsoft's work on a 10-inch tablet is important because it will incorporate Qualcomm's dual-core processor platform, which means Microsoft is gearing up to be a major player in the ARM-powered tablet space.

Learning Opportunities

This will give Microsoft an edge in competing with the likes of Android and iOS devices, which power ARM-based tablet computers. While Microsoft initially launched Windows 8 (through its public beta program) as an Intel x86 operating system, running on ARM will make it easier for other tablet manufacturers to market Windows-powered devices, as virtually all Android tablet makers already use ARM on their devices.

Android Has Competition

Thus, while Nokia's entry (or re-entry, rather, given its previous attempt to market an Internet-device called the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet) into the tablet market will mean competition for the current fray of Android-powered tablets. This will also speed up the development of non-Android competitors to both the iPad and Android tablets.

With the plethora of Android-powered tablets in various price points, Nokia's introduction of a Windows 8 device will bolster competition, especially within the market for enterprise devices, which still sees Windows devices are more enterprise-friendly than other platforms like Android or iOS.