Is Nokia Too Slow to the e-Reader Battle?

Nokia (NYSE:NOK), the former top maker of mobile phones in the world, still has no tablet or e-reader device, and the company appears too nervous to offer any timeframe for a possible product in what is one of the fastest growing segments of the industry. However, the Finnish phone maker is taking at least one baby step with the release of its reading app for the Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone starting on Friday.

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The app will be first made available in France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Spain, and the UK and has been designed to be compatible with all the four current Lumia models. At time of launch, it already includes titles in local languages, including “thousands” of international classics available for free. In contrast, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) had rolled out support for local languages on its Kindle gradually. The Nokia Reading app will also allow text re-sizing and will use fonts that work on a smaller screen. Features such as audiobook functionality and aggregation of news feeds will be future free updates, the company says.

“We have built a reading service that focuses on how people read on their mobiles,” Nokia’s product manager for the app, Rhidian Williams, wrote in a blog post. “It’s a service that recognises that people read different kinds of content at different times of the day, and it brings this content together in a reading hub that will encourage readers to come back to it frequently.”

While Nokia’s Reading app adds an element to the Windows Phone that has become fairly standard these days, there is also the question of how the Finnish company will fit into the new relationship its mobile partner Microsoft has struck up with Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS). With Microsoft deciding to invest in the bookseller’s Nook tablet business in exchange for content development for Windows 8, Nokia’s position seems uncertain.

Nokia had already lost out on the first real wave of smartphone success to Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) in being so behind in releasing a new product, and is now trying to enter a saturated market with the Lumia. It wouldn’t be wise to go through a similar process when it comes to tablets, would it?

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