Nokia Does a 180 and Will Release Android 3.0 Honeycomb Tablet?

While Nokia has repeatedly shot down rumors in the past that it would branch out and adopt the Android operating system, made by Google, in its smartphone products, rumors are once again heating up that Nokia may be looking towards Android 3.0 Honeycomb for possible future products. Given the fact that Honeycomb will be the first version of Android that will be tablet-optimized to take advantage of larger screen real estate on Android tablets, the rumor is interesting as it may be suggest a Nokia tablet running on the OS–Nokia’s denial of Android adoption in the past usually centered around smartphones.

News of Android adoption by the world’s largest phone-maker comes by way of DigiTimes, which is reporting that Google is giving priority on Android 3.0 to phone-makers over notebook vendors. Nokia, along with Motorola, Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, and High Tech Computer (HTC) are listed as preferred partners. DigiTimes is noting that smartphone-makers will have Android 3.0 tablets ready by as early as late February 2011.

Given that Google is favoring phone-makers over traditional computer vendors, it could create an uneven playing field, especially with an open-source OS, for those wanting to release a tablet-optimized Android slate. That said, Google may want to work more closely with each of its partners to ensure a smooth release for what is essentially a 1.0 truly tablet product to compete with the iPad.

The sources pointed out that because Google is unable to handle every players’ requests at once, it is giving priority for cooperation to most of the smartphone players. Sources believe Google’s strategy will cause notebook vendors to launch their tablet PCs later than smartphone players, while some players even believe that the tablet PC market will not be fully dominated by notebook vendors who will also face competition from smartphone players.

For its part, Nokia is seemingly looking at other operating systems. The company has been rumored recently to be exploring a partnership with Microsoft to use the Windows Phone 7 OS on future phones. With Android, however, it may not make sense as the company is supposed to be releasing a MeeGo tablet in the future, which will be a direct competitor to Android and may offer a fresh new user experience; that tablet, however, is rumored to be delayed until Q3 2011.

In the past, Nokia has cited that the company has invested too much resources into existing platforms–S40, Symbian, Maemo, and MeeGo–to adopt Android. Given the delays behind MeeGo to power Nokia’s next generation of powerful smartphones, tablets, and devices, Android 3.0 could potentially be a stepping stone for the company as it could deliver an early product while MeeGo is being readied.