The world's top cellphone maker, Nokia, is working on its own Internet tablet, scheduled to reach stores later this year, a technology sector analyst said on Tuesday.
Analyst said in addition to Nokia also many other handset and PC vendors like Samsung Electronics and HP are set to follow Apple's move into a new category of devices between PCs and smartphones.
Over the weekend, Apple sold more than 300,000 iPads on the tablet computer's first day in stores, a strong showing that roughly matched Wall Street forecasts and mirrored the iPhone's debut in 2007.
Right now the supply chain is being primed up for a fall release. It has to be on the shelf by September-October to meet demand for the holiday window, said Ashok Kumar, analyst with Rodman and Renshaw.
A spokesman for Nokia declined to comment.
The Finnish cellphone maker introduced its first laptop last year and has made small phone-like devices for browsing the Internet in the past, but with very limited success.
Analysts said many more companies were due to launch their own tablets shortly.
The market will play host to a flood of 'me too' tablets in 2010 but it's an immature product category with an unproven use case, said CCS Insight analyst Geoff Blaber.
Apple's brand and service offering means the iPad will be an exception in a category that will struggle to gain consumer acceptance, Blaber said. [ Kumar said the device would likely use Microsoft's Windows software, but several other analysts said it could also use the new MeeGo operating system, the software venture of Nokia and Intel.
MeeGo is probably aimed mostly at the tablet market. I don't think Nokia or Samsung can afford to stay out of the tablet market, said Tero Kuittinen, analyst at MKM Partners.
Nokia simply has to make a go at this segment, since it may end up cannibalising the high-end smartphone market substantially, Kuittinen said. (Reporting by Jim Finkle in Boston and Tarmo Virki in Helsinki; editing by Simon Jessop)