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Summary:

Speculation surrounding Nokia’s Linux-based OS flared up again this morning with a Reuters report that the Finnish manufacturer will showcase a Maemo phone at Nokia World in Germany this week. So what would that mean for Symbian? It’s getting tough to dismiss Nokia’s attention to Maemo. […]

nseries5Speculation surrounding Nokia’s Linux-based OS flared up again this morning with a Reuters report that the Finnish manufacturer will showcase a Maemo phone at Nokia World in Germany this week. So what would that mean for Symbian?

It’s getting tough to dismiss Nokia’s attention to Maemo. Germany’s Financial Times two weeks ago quoted a source close to the company as saying it may dump Symbian entirely in favor of Maemo, prompting a spokesperson to tell Om that Nokia “absolutely remain(s) committed to Symbian and S60.” Of course, it’s difficult to believe Nokia would scrap Symbian — which with a 50.3 percent market share remains the world’s dominant smartphone OS — just a year after spending $410 million to take over the platform and open-source it.

Instead, it looks as if Nokia will throw Maemo into the market in high-end devices to see if it can compete with the iPhone, which has eaten Symbian’s lunch over the last year. Maemo — which Nokia has used in its Internet tablets — is said to be more flexible than Symbian, especially in terms of its user interface.

There’s no question that Symbian’s user interface is lacking compared to those on Apple’s iPhone and some other handsets, and Maemo’s technological advantages could help Nokia compete with the new wave of high-end phones. But Nokia faces a substantial challenge in integrating the platform with Ovi, its umbrella brand of mobile Internet services. For Maemo to take off it will need the support of a thriving developer community and a vibrant, compelling app storefront.

Nokia has already experienced serious growing pains as it tries to evolve from a handset manufacturer into a wireless Internet services company. Adding another OS to its arsenal may only compound those problems.Nokia_logo2

  1. have you ever used a s60 phone? It’s not the interface, it is:

    1. crappy webkit browser
    2. no easy HTML email
    3. No apps to buy

    Lets call this honestly: Nokia has NO clue how to move to higher end phones, and their experiments (vertu, maemo, etc) will all be failures. They aren’t going to drop s60, they are going to make it very very cheap.

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    1. Eric in Cupertino Wednesday, August 26, 2009

      1) that’s ok. we have other browsers like UCWEB and skyfire

      2) profimail 3

      3) see 2,
      plus gravity, x-plore, joikuspot, and phone guardian for example

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    2. I just used Google to find applications for you to download, and the search came up with 31.7 million hits. It will take a long time for Apple to match this.
      Then:
      1. Opera is used by Nokia / Symbian – and can be installed with full development kit for widgets.
      Test the widget on your PC and install it.
      2, Opera supports HTML email..
      3. If you want to pay for the applications, I am certain there are millions. But few are of course developed in the US, but if you miss anything: remote control for your TV – its there, both a free one, and others that you pay for.

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  2. “Nokia has NO clue how to move to higher end phones, and their experiments (vertu, maemo, etc) will all be failures”

    They already have a sizable market share in the high end phones, but not in the U.S. But this is a two-way street: Apple’s launch of iPhone in e.g. India failed miserably, but Nokia goes on strong there. Soon even stronger, as they get their cheaper touch phones, e.g. 5530 XpressMusic on the market.

    Vertu has been a successful and established luxury brand already for a decade. In true luxury, the inside doesn’t count as much as the outside, and that fits Nokia well. Not everyone can afford a $100K diamond phone.

    Smartphones will become very cheap, that is a fact. This is where Nokia and the Koreans excel. iPhone, for example, has about twice as much parts as a typical Nokia smartphone such as 5800 XpressMusic or N97. This may become a serious issue for Apple when the going gets tough, even if they do not intend to compete with price. Nokia, on the other hand, has issues with everything having to do with SW. Maemo could become a mid-term patch on the wound.

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  3. Nokia may release a few Maemo phones as a test marketing exercise, to gather competitive information or just to keep the Symbian guys on their toes. Extrapolating to a whole-company OS beyond premature.

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    1. Paul, have you used an S60 device recently? The Maemo stuff shows great promise, S60 really has been taken about as far as it is possible to take it with a Symbian replacement looking about as impending as WinMo 7 – ie don’t hold your breath.

      konchognaljor – cheap and cheerful is fun I suppose but the road to market leadership and world domination is not from the bottom, rather it is from the top. Technology becomes cheaper and more powerful over time, thus if you own the high end your yesterday products can be the guys of your today’s low end. However, if you just play in the kiddie pool you will never develop the deep water skills needed to survive. The magic in the iphone isn’t the hardware, it is the software and the obsessive attention to detail and user experience that went into it. Nokia in theory should be in a dominant position here with all the years of sitting on top of the global smartphone pile but a few minutes with a FCS N97 readily illustrates that this is not the case. Espoo 2009 = Detroit 1979, but fortunately things like Maemo show that there is at least some hope for now, although there are some who would die/kill for an N97 running Android.

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  4. [...] calls into question how truly focused the company is on open source. (There is even talk that Nokia may move away from Symbian altogether, although Nokia officials deny this.) Meanwhile, Sony Ericsson is playing an increasingly big role [...]

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  5. [...] As GigaOm and this Reuters report note, there is talk that Nokia will show a Maemo phone at next week’s Nokia World show in Germany. Maemo, of course, is Nokia’s long-standing operating system for its line of Internet Tablets, and is based on Debian GNU/Linux. However, some are interpreting the possibility as yet another sign that Nokia’s focus on an open source Symbian OS is wavering. [...]

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  6. [...] Amerika dann neidisch hier hinüber schaut. So las man gestern und vorgestern nicht ohne Wehmut in US-Techblogs, dass Nokia ein kleines aber feines Smartb… Internettablett vorstellen wird. Es soll ab [...]

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  7. Nokia has for years sold the 770 and 880 “tablets” that runs Linux. These are add-ons, that use any Nokia phone as an Internet access device, beside WLAN.
    They have a more mature market perception than any US company, and nothing in the US will change that perception. They have a marketing strategy for the US, just as they have one for China and India. At the end of the day, it is where is the money made that counts – so make the US more profitable.
    You also show gross ignorance (that I see is predominant): the name is “N97″ – which in Nokia terms places the phone in the young people market – and not the advance business users. They have the E90 still.
    The carrier determines the handsets in the US, because you elected to run things this way. In the rest of the world, we can buy the best phone without changing carrier – just the SIM card. Now, if you have a modern Nokia, buy an 880 on Ebay, install what you need of applications, and this will use your mobile to reach the net where WLAN is not available. This device is big enough to be unsuited for pockets, yet small eough to be taken along. The price tag is also amicable – but it does not use Microsoft Windows.

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