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Rumour: Nokia planning Android-based tablets

While it's well known that many manufacturers are waiting on the release of Android 3.0, codenamed 'Honeycomb,' before releasing tablet devices, there are rumours that they will be joined by a surprising name: Nokia.

The Finnish phone specialist, which has previously stated its firm commitment to the Symbian home-brew mobile platform - a staple of the featurephone market but struggling in the smartphone market - is seeking support from Google to produce a device based around Android 3.0.

While both companies are keeping their mouths shut following a report on the partnership from industry rumour-mill DigiTimes, which takes its usual tack of citing unnamed sources, it's easy to guess what Nokia has in mind: a tablet device, designed as a companion - rather than competition - to its phones.

A Nokia-branded smartphone running Android isn't impossible. The company continues to push its own Symbian^3 mobile platform, and also has the MeeGo Linux platform it co-developed with chip giant Intel waiting in the wings for devices where Symbian is less suitable.

A tablet device designed to be paired with Nokia phones, however, makes sense: it gives the company, which has seen its share of the lucrative smartphone market shrink following fierce competition from Apple's popular iPhone and the growing tide of Android-based smartphones, a foothold in the burgeoning tablet market without the need to customise its own operating systems for the requirements of a large-format device.

Furthermore, it's almost certain that a Nokia-branded tablet would include customisation for linking the device to Symbian-based handsets for on-the-go Internet connectivity - much like Research in Motion's upcoming PlayBook will connect to the company's line of BlackBerry handsets - driving sales of the company's core line of smartphones and featurephones.

With Nokia and Google both keeping quiet on this particular rumour, only time will tell if Nokia is thinking of resurrecting its Internet Tablet project with an Android-based device.