updated 09:55 am EST, Tue February 3, 2009
Nokia Multi-Touch Rumor
Alleged market sources tell DigiTimes today that Nokia is planning a resurgence that may hinge on multi-touch devices. The Finnish company is said to be planning several cellphones with advanced 3G as well as "multi-touch and multimedia functions" for the year that will help not only itself but the companies that make the cellular chipsets and touchscreen technology, including Qualcomm, Synaptics and Texas Instruments. Other details aren't mentioned, though the multi-touch technology doesn't apply to the N97.
Recent roadmaps have suggested Nokia is planning at least two devices beyond the N97, codenamed IP08 and Eitri, that will focus heavily on touch controls. The IP08 will have a "Naviscroll" interface where the Eitri gets haptic (vibration) feedback and pressure sensitivity. Neither is yet known to have multi-touch input.
While unconfirmed, the news would make Nokia only the second company outside of Apple to have plans for multi-finger touch controls and may run against the latter's willingness to defend its patents on some of the underlying concepts. Palm's Pre is the first to overtly challenge the iPhone using a similar input format and believes it's immune to patent challenges based on its history in touchscreen devices, which extends back to the original Palm Pilot.
The Nokia revival would come from a claimed ramp-up in chipset production starting in March that would help phones releasing during the spring, potentially including one or more of the new touch devices. An increase hints that the company believes the cellphone industry will recover from the slow economy more quickly than before, even though the company doesn't expect strong performance at the very start of the year.