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Nokia's dirty secret: The untold story of a production-ready tablet from 2001

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Around 1000 pieces of the Nokia M510 web tablet were produced in 2001 – nine years before the first iPad. But according to Nokia´s market research the consumers weren't ready for the device.


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– There is nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to technology of the device. This was top notch of the era.

So says communications telecommunications expert Mr. Esko Yliruusi who was part of the team responsible for creation of the tablet. The device was never to see release.

There is some pride in Yliruusi's voice. It's no wonder. The Nokia 510 web tablet went into production nine years before the first iPad hit the market.




A hint of the device was dropped last week when journalist David J. Cord revealed in his book "The Decline and Fall of Nokia" that the company had plans for a tablet computer.
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According to Cord the project was dropped 45 minutes before the device went into production. The information is slightly incorrect. The project was indeed dropped – but not before a production run of around 1000 devices was completed.

Most of the devices
ended up in the crusher


Mr. Yliruusi participated in the project from early 2001 until August when the project was dropped. His responsibilities were of testing the communications capabilities of the device. 




– The tablet did actually go into production. The order to stop didn't come before that, Yliruusi corrects the information in the book.

According to Mr. Yliruusi the project was suspended because the device was too much ahead of its time. A market research was conducted and the results showed that there was no demand for the product.

– It was stated that it is not yet the time for a device like this, tells Mr. Yliruusi. 

– It was a marvelous concept but nothing the consumers would yet accept, he continues.




Mr. Yliruusi says that he is not able to assess whether the decision was a wise one or not.

There are approximately 130 surviving devices. The development team got tablets of their own as a farewell gift. Rest of the devices were scrapped.

– I had a strong feeling that this one is a keeper. There were things in the device that were done just as they should be. I felt that we shall be hearing of gadgets like this, tells Mr. Yliruusi of his feelings at the time.

After the termination of the project the development team was sacked. Some were re-employed by Nokia. Like many others Mr. Yliruusi sought employment elsewhere. These days he runs a company called Networker who he is a founder and owner of.

A true
home device





The tablet has been a well-kept secret up until now. Before the publication of the original Finnish language article there were no mentions of the M510 on the Internet.

The tablet was intended to be a true consumer product. It had an email client, Opera web browser, a calendar and a noticeboard application. There was a stand to keep the device in an upright position on the kitchen table.




Technically speaking the tablet was an example of up-to-date technology. But as it never hit the stores there was no one to write any software for it.

– Had the lifespan of the device been a year or two longer and had somebody made it run Linux it could have evolved into anything. The next version would have weighted half of this, reflects Yliruusi.

The operating system is one thing. Applications are another.  Yliruusi speculates whether there could have been an ecosystem based on the M510.

– The tablet was before mobile ecosystem thinking. You wouldn't have had any applications for it.

Did something carry
over to future devices?





The M510 tablet was never to be. Nokia didn't release its first internet device until four years later. 2005's Nokia 770 sported a four inch screen and looked more like a smart phone of the era than tablet. Despite some healthy sales is wasn't exactly a smash hit.

Mr. Yliruusi believes that some things were carried over from M510 to Nokia 770.




– When Nokia 770 was launched I had the feeling that all of our work hadn't gone to waste. It seemed like some things were picked up from the old design. And finally they made the right operating system choice.

Nokia 770 run Maemo which later transformed into Meego. It was Nokia's planned successor to the already obsolete Symbian OS.

But this was also not to be. Soon after Stephen Elop took over as the CEO of Nokia he chose Windows Phone over Meego.

The rest is history. Not unlike many other ex-Nokians the Microsoft acquisition of Nokia's phone business was a bitter pill for Esko Yliruusi.

– Yes, I felt bad. I decided that I'm not getting any more of these, says Mr. Yliruusi waving his Nokia Lumia.

– My next phone will be a Jolla.

Nokia M510 web tablet specifications
Operating sytemEpoc (early Symbian)
Applicationsemail, calendar, Opera web browser, noticeboard
Inputtouch screen with finger and stylys pen control, scroll wheels and buttons, external keyboard
Memory32 Mt sdram + 32 Mt flash
Display10 inch lcd touch screen, 800 x 600 pixels
Weight1876 grams (4,14 lb)
Battery life4 h
Connectorsusb, ps/2, headphone
WlanNokia C111, 11 Mbit/s (802.11b), range 300 meters outdoors, 20 meters indoors


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