Analyst: Nokia Is Prepping An iPad Rival, Too

First Apple (NSDQ: AAPL), then HP… is Nokia now planning its own tablet computer? Yes, according to Rodman and Renshaw analyst Ashok Kumar…

“Right now, the supply chain is being primed up for a fall release,” Kumar says (via Reuters). “It has to be on the shelf by September-October to meet demand for the holiday window.” Nokia (NYSE: NOK) declined to comment.

Reuters (NYSE: TRI) reports that Kumar said the device would likely use Microsoft’s Windows software, but several other analysts said it could also use the new MeeGo operating system, which is a collaboration between Nokia and Intel (NSDQ: INTC). Nokia has said in the past that MeeGo would lend itself well to non-phone devices, like netbooks and other consumer electronics. And an analyst in Nokia’s Native Finland reckons: “Nokia simply has to make a go at this segment, since it may end up cannibalising the high-end smartphone market substantially.”

It wouldn’t be the first time Nokia has followed by making a non-phone device. Noting how retailers began to bundle netbooks – and not just mobiles – with wireless contracts, it last year released its own Booklet 3G, a netbook running Windows 7 with integrated SIM slot. But the Booklet has suffered from its high price and was last seen with just two carriers – O2 Germany and Best Buy/AT&T (NYSE: T) in the U.S. Previously, Nokia also engineered the N810 edition handheld tablet, which initially ran over WiFi and then later WiMax before being canceled altogether.

Given Nokia’s strategic alliance with Microsoft, there’s also a chance this could extend to a tablet running Microsoft’s rumoured Courier tablet concept?

Nokia is already working overtime to arrest declining market share and industry perception in the core market of smartphones. An entry to the tablet computer market could treat us to an extension of the Apple-vs-Nokia patents dispute that’s been playing out in the phone sector.

Whether Nokia puts its hat in the ring or not, expect plenty of iPad imitators throughout 2010. Only in the last few quarters have mobile manufacturers released phones that truly begin to do a decent imitation of iPhone – surely they won’t want to let Apple run away with such an advantage again…