It really is amazing how the tablet industry has become such hot property based only on the success of one product and... well, that's about it actually.
It's come to the point where anyone who hasn't yet launched a tablet is now being asked “when” rather than “if”, but if I was in either Sony or Nokia's shoes right now, I'd look at the lack of tablet action in their product lineup as one of the few big decisions they've got right in recent times.
That may sound a little harsh, but if you break it down, it's hard to argue either that a) the last couple of years have been hugely successful for either Nokia or Sony in the mobile market, or that b) tablets have brought much joy to anyone other than Apple.
Let's deal with the last point first. Leave aside the iPad for a second, and the gap between the slavering, cross-eyed devotion the entire mobile industry has for tablets right now and the complete lack of success almost every example of the breed has enjoyed thus far is frankly embarrassing.
A lot of people think Apple created the tablet market. That's not true; what Apple did was effectively remould the tablet from being a computing device into being a mobile device. Yet both before and after Apple's slate there are plenty of examples of perfectly decent devices that have tried, and completely failed, to capture the public's interest.
Look at how things stand right now and the tablet game looks like one industry-wide car crash waiting to happen. Considering the rather limp public demand for anything other than the iPad, the market is hopelessly oversubscribed, and sales figures for the first Samsung Galaxy Tab, and more recently the Motorola Xoom and the BlackBerry PlayBook over in the States, should serve as a cautionary tale to anyone looking to dip a toe in the water for the first time.
Especially two companies with so much to lose as Sony and Nokia. In Sony's case, the Sony Ericsson mobile phone brand has spent years squandering the huge potential offered by the two brands seperately to the point where the switch to line up its confused portfolio behind Android last year may just have saved it from going under altogether.
In Nokia's case, substitute Windows Phone 7 for Android in that last sentence and a lot of the Finnish phone maker's loyal fans might secretly be happy for the same outcome in 18 months time, even if they're too bitter about the Symbian “betrayal” to admit it out loud right now.
So what silver lining does the heavy cloud of the tablet game's impending correction have to offer either of them? There may well be long-term life in the tablet market – all the analysts are suggesting as much, after all – but as things stand the cart has sped a long way ahead of the horse based on the iPad's huge success, and we're going to see an awful lot of failed products over the next 12 months before things mature into a seriously settled market with a decent core of quality devices to choose from.
There's no doubt that both Sony and Nokia could easily be among the leading brands in that settled market, but to show their hand while the market is still so volatile would be taking a huge risk, which for one of them at least is a risk they simply can't afford right now.