75 Comments

Summary:

Nokia is insistent on using MeeGo for its smartphones in the future, but the company hasn’t yet provided a compelling reason why. Meanwhile, competitors with mature smartphone platforms are selling millions of handsets. It’s time for Nokia to stop the MeeGo experiment and embrace Google Android.

Last week, Nokia’s new executive vice president of the Mobile Solutions unit, Anssi Vanjoki, essentially banked the future of his company on its MeeGo handset platform. MeeGo was created this past February through the merger of Nokia’s Maemo and Intel’s Moblin operating systems, both of which are Linux-based. Compared to every other currently available smartphone operating system, MeeGo is a relative babe — the first developer build with an interface arrived just one day before Vanjoki’s public commitment to use it. And this relative newness amidst established platforms is one of many reasons why Nokia should stop MeeGo efforts now and embrace Google’s Android platform.

I address this argument in more depth in our most recent GigaOM Pro research report (subscription required), but many of my thoughts revolve around the same central theme — there are a number of reasons not to use MeeGo, and Nokia has yet to provide a compelling reason why it should use MeeGo. And while Nokia tries to find one while continuing to evolve MeeGo, Android devices are selling at annual rate of 58 million handset per year.

The Finnish handset maker can save money, reduce development costs and still play to its hardware design strengths with Android. Between unique hardware and — if Nokia felt the need — a customized interface, Android-powered Nokia handsets would rival those of HTC, a company that embraced Android early on and is enjoying more than 66 percent year-over-year revenue growth. While HTC thrives thanks to Android, Nokia is instead reducing already low sales expectations. Maybe MeeGo needs go away before it actually arrives on smartphones.

Read my full argument here.

  1. Dennis Victor Wednesday, July 7, 2010

    The problem extends far beyond the OS for Nokia though. Most of their recent handsets are poorly built plastic mobile phones. That, in my opinion, is their biggest obstacle. People will compare them directly to Apple, HTC, Sony Ericsson – and quickly notice how “plasticky” most Nokia phones are. And if they’re actually solid, they’re priced too high. Often above even the iPhone.

    Have to admit, I can understand why such a prominent mobile company wants to set the stage with a home-grown OS. Even if it looks like they’re fighting a losing battle, they are still the biggest mobile company in the world and they probably see it as an obligation to defend that turf.

    If Nokia went Android, they’d essentially be selling out an enormous part of their Corporate Brand integrity. I’m betting they just haven’t sunk low enough to do that just yet. If anything, MeeGo at least looked very fluid and intuitive on the tablets, so there’s hope still.

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    1. Which Nokia handsets are you referring to? In which countries are these handsets priced above the iPhone?

      My two most recent Nokia handsets are the N86 and the N900 – the N86 cost about 2/3 of the price of an equivalent iPhone and the N900 was slightly less than an iPhone 3GS 32GB.

      I have an iPhone too and in comparison, I find neither the N86 nor the N900 to be “plasticky” and “poorly built”

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    2. Two points:

      1) Most of Nokia’s recent handsets have been budget to mid tier and therefore do feature cheaper materials prominently. Models like the E72 and the forthcoming N8 feature more metal and are priced accordingly.
      2) Your pricing doesn’t take into account carrier subsidies.

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    3. Dennis,

      While I think the OS question that Kevin raises is a very legimate one to consider, I don’t agree with you that Nokia’s hardware are plasticky as you say, at least regarding the N900. I have the N900 and it feels very well made and solidly built…

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      1. I have to agree with Mark and ArchiMark – hardware isn’t the issue. I find the N900 is extremely well built and the new E73 Mode may be the most solidly built handset I’ve ever used.

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    4. which nokia model is more expensive than iphone ? I hope you are not referring to subsidized prices. Nokia phones generally has better hardware quality than even Apple. Their batteries last long, their cameras are much better than what Apple, Motorola, HTC produce. What they lack is good User Interface and good OS and of course a viable appstore.

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    5. which nokia model is more expensive than iphone ? I hope you are not referring to subsidized prices. Nokia phones generally has better hardware quality than even Apple. Their batteries last long, their cameras are much better than what Apple, Motorola, HTC produce. What they lack is good User Interface and good OS and of course a viable appstore.

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    6. I am not sure if adopting Android would amount to “selling corporate identity”. Although Nokia is a huge company, it does not have any influence in the smart phone market and Nokia cannot choose to ignore this market for obvious reasons.

      While MeeGo may be a great platform, why should users or developers adopt Nokia with Meego when they have other proven and mature offerings. In my response to Nokia’s strategy, I firmly believe that Nokia will be better off adopting Android and focusing on quality hardware rather than spread its resources in developing both hardware and software.

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  2. [...] for a developer and end user point of view, respectively. There were claims that Nokia will, or should, go to Android as it's next system, this would, supposedly, save Nokia seemingly failing stock. [...]

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  3. Nokia is trying to reinvent itself as a software and solutions company. With Qt round the corner, Nokia has a realistic chance for a fightback. Adopting Android now would just be a stupid move.

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    1. They’ve been trying it (and announcing it repeatedly) since the late ’90’s. Ovi has made progress in Europe (not sure of their user numbers), but elsewhere Nokia has suffered for trying openly to challenge carriers for control of users.

      They’ve never been good at recruiting a developer community, preferring instead to buy companies and assemble their own portal. They need an app market, and it isn’t clear there is time or space to create their own.

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      1. By “elsewhere” you mean USA. Maybe you should check situation in India, China and Middle East. There Nokia is even more stronger than in Europe. There’s whole world outside of USA and Europe.

        And what about the Forum Nokia? One of the largest developer community in a world. Nokia already have AppStore of their own – Ovi Store.

        Maybe you should check your facts.

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    2. One caveat… if the world moves from native apps to HTML5 apps it will level the playing field for a number of players. But permissions are supposedly complex for HTML apps – where you give a native app permission once to access a range of phone resources, HTML apps apparently require a series of permission requests each time you use them. Seems solvable, but it’s annoying now.

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  4. I don’t think the situation is as dire as is being painted here. Also, remember US & Europe are not the world’s center as far as mobile services are concerned.

    Nokia’s primary strength is in Emerging markets – i.e. BRIC economies and Africa. Remember, Android is activating 160,000 phones a day spread out over 5-10 handset makers. Nokia alone sells 1-1.5 MILLION plus phone EVERY day.

    Remember, 3G is in its infancy in Nokia’s core markets – China, India and others.. Nokia has strong presence, customer loyalty and carrier relationships in these markets. The number of attractive apps is key…but do not forget that in these emerging markets, the app stores are being run and controlled by carriers (which I think is a smart thing to do for the carriers) not by phone makers..

    So leveraging MeeGo (which is Linux bases) plus its carrier relationships and brand presence in the world’s largest and fastest growing markets

    And if Apple’s poor performance and lack of any significant market presence in China and India are anything to go by, then Nokia has plenty of juice left..

    Comments welcome

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    1. Nokia intends to use MeeGo in high-end smartphones, so if successful, it will take a while to trickle down (if ever) to the emerging markets. I don’t disagree with you that Nokia’s area of strength is in emerging markets, but MeeGo isn’t targeted for those areas.

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      1. I agree with you that it is designed for high end phones initially with probable trickle down in the following 12-18 months. I disagree with you that ‘high end phones’ is the same as US and Europe markets only.

        As the largest mobile markets in the world (read BRIC) start moving to 3G which can support data services and apps, and users familiar with Nokia start trading up (probably in the tens of millions) to Nokia 3G phones with apps provided by respective carriers, you could see the momentum shifting.

        I would give it till 2012 for this to happen. If for some reason, Nokia is not sucessfull (which I highly doubt) then, and only then, 2 yrs from now, should Nokia consider alternatives. Even then who knows how the ecosystem will look then.

        I think your suggestion that Nokia make the switch now is premature, at the minimum and seems to ignore ground realities of Nokia’s market strength

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      2. You may be right (and part of me hopes so, in fact), but I’m basing my thoughts of the target markets directly on Nokia’s public strategy plans. See: http://nokiaexperts.com/symbian-s60-s40-meego-nokias-strategy/

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      3. For one, I won’t base any ‘research’ note on publicly available strategy documents from a company. Honestly, do you think the top guys at Nokia say – ‘ Hey let’s publish our strategy for all important smartphone market, so we can get the smart people out there to tell us if we are right or wrong. Hey..maybe Steve Jobs will read it and tell us if are doing it right’ Duh :-)

        One needs to look under the cover, do some actual ‘research’ into options that Nokia may have, before coming out and saying they have lost the war (even though its hardly even started in 80% of the world-wide customer base) and they should hand their future to an OS that sell 1/10th of what they do.

        Plus, remember – its all about the software..so if you give it up, what do you have…nada, zilch, zero…

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      4. Understood – the company may not be playing all of its cards publicly. I agree with you there, but not so much on the comment about giving up the software and having nothing. HTC is proving that statement wrong every day and Samsung is reiterating it (but hedging their bets with Bada).

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  5. I will simply repost what I did on Pro (wonder why comments between the two aren’t more integrated):

    Android makes little sense to any company who is concerned with service revenue that’s vertically attached to a mobile platform. Given your logic here, Apple and MS should also go Android, but, we know that neither are happening – at least not at the level of allowing anything more than the occaional service hook into the platform-service.

    MeeGo is a Nokia-researched and designed opportunity to not just have control of the mobile platform, but the hooks into the services that platform enables. It started years ago when some enterprising folks at Nokia understood that Symbian was not as well positioned for a connected-platform and Memo was born, and that continued through Maemo’s development stages, developer and comment relations, and their larger internal change to be more open in regards to processes and strategies. The Moblin merge pretty much fell into their lap, as both Intel and Nokia see the same things regarding platform monetization around connectivity and services at the client-user level. And now all parties are positioned to be something like Android, minus Google (mostly) and Apple.

    That’s about as win-win as Nokia needs now.

    Plus, to move to Android, and the resulting PR fallout will take more time to harness than they will be given time to do so by media and many markets. Essentially, this is a roll for all the marbles, as it should be.

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    1. “MeeGo is a Nokia-researched and designed opportunity to not just have control of the mobile platform, but the hooks into the services that platform enables. It started years ago when some enterprising folks at Nokia understood that Symbian was not as well positioned for a connected-platform and Memo was born”

      Just so I understand: you believe that Maemo was successful for Nokia?

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      1. Kevin as a long time user of Maemo I defiantly believe that it was successful for Nokia. Not in sales numbers but I don’t think they ever expected it to be. Where it was a success was in proving that Nokia can build and work in the Open Source world, it also allowed them recruit the Linux devs they need now.

        I think Nokia have made the right decision to build their own system and at the same time completely open source it. This way they can use there considerable resources to be controllers of there own destiny while at the same time attracting other manufactures to Meego. From an OS point of view Maemo/Meego is already very strong. From a UI point of view time will tell but one thing you can’t say is that they are starting from scratch here.

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    2. Yes, I think it was successful, but not from the aspect of customer-facing aspects of their mobile business. From about the release of the N810, it seemed as if Nokia knew that they needed to change the company before changing the customer, hence MeeGo being deemed a step 5 pf 5 to their corporate strategy.

      Maemo wins included creating a mobile ecosystem from scratch, redefining the relationships between manufacturer and suppliers, good and bad lessons of leveraging’community’ for certain aspects of planning and developmet work, and probably the most important success for Nokia, exposing the flaws in their organizational hierarchies as it relates to communication and strategy execution.

      Doen’t mean they played these successes into anything more than a cult-type product, but it does very publically show the direction the company has wanted to go.

      Step 5 is the end-user, or customer facing play. Given these lessons, success is a requirement, not an option. And neither, therefore, is Android.

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      1. Fair points, but many of them apply to Palm and webOS as well – without HP to buy them, the new OS and mobile ecosystem Palm created would either continue to be a niche player or wither on the vine. Still, I like your “success is a requirement, not an option approach.” I know Nokia has a ton of bright folks that can make that happen.

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    3. I agree with ARJWright for the reasons he’s outlined. Moving to Android would be an absolutely insane idea short term and doesn’t make much sense in the long term either.

      Think about it. Nokia’s strategy is clear – Symbian powers the democratised smartphone available to the masses at a wide range of prices and needs. For the more demanding customer there will be MeeGo which is versatile, new and shiny. Sitting across both is the Qt framework.

      Android simply doesn’t offer anything compelling to Nokia for their current and targetted customer basis. Fundamentally the OS is unimportant. It’s what it can do, how it performs and what runs on it and, frankly, once you strip away proprietary UIs Android hasn’t got anything to worry Symbian let alone MeeGo.

      It is a gross error to think that today’s high end market is what should drive the development of an entire phone strategy because it’s so darn fickle. Motorola tried to play that game with the RAZR and lost heavily. Apple are in real danger too (although with their legions of followers to a lesser degree unless they keep making silly QA errors). Nokia and Samsung realise where it’s really at – the mass market. You don’t win that with one product and by jumping on what’s currently fashionable to techs and of little interest to Joe Public.

      As for Android’s sales numbers, well lets see what Gartner and IDC have to say before making extrapolations. ;)

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  6. I think you are undervaluing and underestimating Nokia and the position it holds worldwide. Yes they have 0 market share in the US but its influence worldwide with carriers is huge. All the way to backend infrastructure and full network operations in many countries that tie to handsets.

    Just like Apple, they need a refresh in management and “1” great handset that delivers the old Nokia quality and assurance of great service. Apple did it with “1” handset with an OS from scratch! Why cant Nokia? I wouldn’t advise Nokia to go the android route. Why should they and hand over their destiny to Google?

    Today they have the perfect organizational structure to obtain the results they are getting. Time to tweak!

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  7. I disagree with Nokia giving up to Android. The biggest maker of mobile phones should not lose control of the operating system, because it is what will reward the highest margins in the future.

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    1. The risk of not using android is going Bankrupt. The reality will soon don upon them. You seriously think Nokia can create a product much more advanced than the rest of the world (open sourced Android) and sell it at a premium when they are already so far behind and have never demonstrated any sort of excellence in UI/software design. It is either low margin or no margin. And what are they going to do for apps?

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  8. Hi Kevin,
    I agree with you 100%. Had made exactly this statement in my blog in the middle of May: http://funwithandroid.blogspot.com/2010/05/why-dont-nokia-and-blackberry-ride-on.html

    Only addition I would make to your remarks is that they apply as well to RIM….

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  9. Hi all,

    From what I can tell, most folks who think that Nokia should not go the MeeGo route base it on the assumption that MeeGo is a super competitive, cool new UI which they will deliver and wake up their smartphone efforts. Last I checked, Intel was a Semi company, trying to break into the smart-phone market (an effort going on for > 5 years with low success) and Nokia hasnt delivered an uber cool UI in years – so why should it change now? We need to be a tad skeptical – happy to be proven wrong. Personally, I too think that they need to not hand their destiny to Google (with all its Android success) and give it a serious shot. However, they better deliver with MeeGo, else they will really go down the tube.

    Also – I am a little tired of hearing their success in BRICs yada yada. Reality is that they are being squeezed by low cost Asian guys on low end and Apple/others on high end. So the arguments around their “strength” are a little backward looking. When you own a high market share, you are left defending it and things head only in one direction – down. The stock market is valuing them ~0.5x sales, because it doesnt see growth! If I were a dev today, I’d make a beeline to develop for largest audiences and they come from Apple & Android. Just my 2c.

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  10. another Intel bashing article from gigaom..you guys need to put some thoughts before writing up here so that it will have some sense..

    “there are a number of reasons not to use MeeGo, and Nokia has yet to provide a compelling reason why it should use MeeGo.”

    regarding your statement, nokia needs to go with meego..

    FOR THE SAME REASON as Apple has ios and google developed Andriod.

    brand differentiation and controllability. after all Nokia pioneered in its symbian platform and you are heavily under estimating Nokia’s ( and ofcourse Intel, as you always does) capability.

    Meego is developed with core idea of connectivity and cloud based services and which WORKS on multiple types/form factor devices.. no other OS can work so..(atleast as of today).. as the cloud based services evolve, there is lot of potential revenue from non-cellular connecting devices.. (mobile/laptop/gaming/energy contollers/cars/refridgerators..you name it..any thing that can be connected to network)..

    your thoughts are misguided,dubious and devious.

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    1. This post really has little to nothing to do with Intel, so that criticism is falling on deaf ears. ;)

      You do make a good point though: “as the cloud based services evolve, there is lot of potential revenue from non-cellular connecting devices.. (mobile/laptop/gaming/energy contollers/cars/refridgerators..you name it..any thing that can be connected to network)..”

      I agree completely. Now if you had to pick an OS for those devices, which would it be? My money would be on Android, but that’s just me.

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    2. We should agree on a rule for tech debates, analogous to the Hitler rule of arguments, whereby the first person who invokes a networked fridge loses the debate.

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      1. +1 Paul! :)

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  11. Let’s see Nokia’s two choices – go with Android, and go down the commodity route of PC hardware makers in the 90s (handset manufacturer customizing android doesn’t seem viable, especially as Google is tackling more and more advanced issues such as UI, really doesn’t make sense for the manufacturer to add another layer of complexity) – how can you differentiate vs. HTC or Samsung or Motorola? Not really a very attractive future. (For HTC or Motorola it made sense, because they were in completely different competitive positions compared to Nokia.)

    The other choice is to go with an in-house OS, which offers you tight integration with hardware and opportunity to differentiate on software. This is essentially the Apple value prop. Question for Nokia is whether they can execute, especially around building an app eco-system. Based on their track-record, not very promising.

    Neither choice is particularly attractive, given what we know of the company’s strengths and weaknesses. But by going MeeGo instead of embracing Android, Nokia is basically betting the company’s future in the hopes of retaining a higher share of the end value delivered to customers. We’ll just have to wait and see if they can execute against this vision – great execution will make any strategy look smart, whereas failure to execute will not save even the best strategy on paper.

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    1. Who in their right mind will pay a premium for Meego? When it comes 1/2 years down the line, it will compete with a much more advanced Android/Win Phone n/iOS 2n, let alone a premium, they will not sell too many even in a fire sale.

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      1. Rdx, What premium are you talking about? Meego is a free open source OS and as for more advanced in what way specifically are the OSs you speak of more advanced?

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    2. Nan, I totally agree.

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    3. Completely agree with you Nan…

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    4. Some good points, Nan, but you miss one fundamental. Nokia aren’t betting everything on MeeGo because 80% of their smartphones will still run Symbian which will meet the needs of the commodity market very well.

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  12. What Nokia needs is not a new OS. It needs fresh blood to reclaim its identity. Android will hardly help solve the identity crisis that is plaguing Nokia.

    On the other hand, Meego is not a bad shot at all. For one, it has roots in the company. Secondly, the innards are solid. Solid does not mean popular. And that is Nokia’s problem.

    The app wave has taken Nokia by surprise. Now Nokia needs to hit back – in an original way – and not by claiming “me can do apps too”.

    Nokia’s best bet is to kill the app concept. Embrace the cloud, embrace the browser, embrace the world of open standards.

    Kill Android. Use ChromeOS if you must. But kill Android.

    Android, like death, is a great leveler. All Android phones are similar. You can buy your big mac super-phone anywhere and wow, isn’t it the same familiar feeling? Familiarity might breed contempt. Beware.

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    1. How will embracing the browser make it any better than embracing Android? All phones have webkit browsers, they are even more commoditised.

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    2. Yes, I too agree with you FTM.
      But I think it is browser which is ‘great leveler’ than Android itself.
      Just like in desktop era, Software approach killed by Server, mobile app approach will be killed by Cloud.
      With that, both Android and MeeGo can co-exist.

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    3. Yes, the browser is commodity. My bad, should’ve mentioned that. Since Nokia cannot beat the app guys at the app game, they probably need to change the game. Being a me-too is not clever, and doesn’t help the brand image of Nokia.

      If Nokia does websites (i.e if they can get all the great websites to deliver to phones rather than only PCs), and if they do this very well, then the value of apps diminishes. Nokia can then tell the world “You can please have the gazillion apps on your app stores. Am I glad I have this swiss army knife! You can burn money on the apps. Now let me do something more clever”.

      Easier said than done. But easy is boring, right?

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  13. This just a absurdity. Why would Nokia still after being bind the curve for 3 years is one of the top 10 technology companies in the world…so guess how lead it had and why should it become slave to google. for all the talk of andriod – its not open only google can develop it and customize it and now in 3.0 vendors won’t even be able to put a UI skin on it!!! common….its going the apple way…we need renegade…nokia has changed from market leader to market challenger for smartphones and mobile computers…so they should go ahead with very very open MeeGo and give developers a choice of developing for mobile desktop OS rather than only a mobile OS which needs a lot of processing power for basic operations and needs a lot of battery… come on wake up …

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  14. I know this is going to get flamed, but someday’s I read articles and really think that authors suffer from the NIH syndrome. In this case, the “here” in the “Not invented here” is the USA. Meego has evolved from Maemo which has been around and available for quite some time. As a developer, I have exposure to Android, iOS, Blackberry and Maemo devices of all types and it staggers me how little praise Maemo gets on-line. Meego is clearly building on this and Nokia should be standing by their guns on this. Apps are, in my opinion, a passing fad. Without so many web-replacement apps, core-developers will be producing utilities rather than website replacements. iOS isn’t good for utilities (Apple isn’t keen now is it?) and both Blackberry and Android are comparatively hard work when developing such. Maemo is relatively easy and (most importantly) open. Meego will be to.

    Maybe Maemo/Meego should just remain as one of those best kept secrets.

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    1. Roland, I think you make some good points. I’m also a developer mainly working on iOS at the moment but I’ve either built for or looked at building for Android, Symbian, Flash, Silverlight and other systems over the years and honestly Maemo/Meego and the QT framework are like a breath of fresh air.

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    2. Roland, I thought this comment you made was interesting: “Meego has evolved from Maemo which has been around and available for quite some time. As a developer, I have exposure to Android, iOS, Blackberry and Maemo devices of all types and it staggers me how little praise Maemo gets on-line.”

      It almost sounds as though you’ve used Maemo on a number of devices. I’ve used it on the Nokia 770, N800/810 and N900 = all Internet tablets and one phone. Have you used it on any other devices?

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      1. I played with it on the 770 but skipped the N800/810 before jumping fully in with the N900 which is my device of choice. I had a week-end free of family but with an iPad, a MacBook Pro, a Blackberry, a device running Android and my N900. I spent my time hacking on the N900. I’m really looking forward to having some serious time for experimenting with Meego and, after the iPad, eagerly look forward to the first commercially available Meego tablet because I find the iPad underwhelming once you get past its physical beauty.

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      2. Got it. I wasn’t sure if you had ported Maemo to some other devices. Have you considered any hacking or tinkering with Android? I’ve flashed perhaps 2 dozen ROMs and custom bits on my Nexus One and find that you can do quite a bit with the platform — I only mention it because you pointed out your time hacking around on the N900 (which I agree, is a fun device to poke and prod at from a Linux standpoint).

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      3. For what its worth (for Android hacking), I’ve got Cupcake running on an OpenMoko on my desk. It’s tracking my journeys but seeing as it hasn’t been anywhere for a couple of weeks (it did a 50 mile charity cycle ride with a colleague recently) not much is happening there. Maemo on N900 is loads more fun and isn’t that what is important?

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      4. A fun experience is indeed important and if you find that on the N900, I’m in no position to argue. If you can get your hands on Android 2.1 or 2.2, I think you’ll find it far more fun than Cupcake, but your mileage may vary.

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  15. Andriod is the darling of Apps now, but it is still way behind Symbian, Nokia’s other OS. They have plans to leverage QT app development for Symbian and MeeGo. It’s a much better platform than the Android virtual machine. Look at how Android beat iOS in javascript execution and how MeeGo beat Android. Many big companies have joined in to give support to MeeGo and it has a much bigger platform and potential and others can adopt it as well. Your American bias is obvious as here is where it has its biggest user base. Why not say “Google should use QT for app development”? Because if they did they would lose their competitive edge. Every app that you make for one of their devices could easily work on a Symbian or MeeGo device. But maybe one day there will be a merger of Android and MeeGo down the line…who knows…

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    1. “Look at how Android beat iOS in javascript execution and how MeeGo beat Android. “

      Of course it did — the MeeGo test was run on a 1.5 GHz Atom x86 chip found in today’s netbooks. ;) I’m assuming you mean this test – http://carrypad.com/2010/07/08/meego-demolishes-android-2-2-in-javascript-test/

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  16. With MeeGo and Android both based on Linux there is no reason Nokia cannot make it do everything Android does without Google dictating things (rumor that Google will start clamping down on UI forking etc).

    I would not be trusting Google at all. Apple learned how sneaky the Google folks really are and Nokia took notice.

    Plus I think intel may have some cool new mobile chips that might be optimized for MeeGo in the future.

    Can the multi-billion phone market support iOS, Android, WinFo7, WebOS AND MEEGO ? Ans: Probably as more and more people upgrade to smarter phones more quickly than ever before. This is much much bigger than the PC market ever was.

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  17. Kevin,
    I like your idea of dumping MeeGo for Android. At this point iOS,Android, WebOS and the soon to be WinMo 7 will crowd the market. Nokia cannot beat them all.
    The things they can do to attract smartphone customers are

    Get that battery life to last three days.
    Get a faster browser (faster than browsers on all platforms)
    Make them soo good that no phone ever gets returned back for defects.

    Battery life is the real deal where Nokia can leapfrog all other platforms.

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  18. Jonathon Wintworth IV Thursday, July 8, 2010

    Let them fight who has the better Linux-based OS while Apple has Unix-based OS that is the best.

    If you have the iPhone you need not be worried since Android uses Unix cloned software and Apple uses the original hardened Unix core that totally punks Linux.

    iOS will remain the best OS. Maybe not the most popular but Apple doesn’t want or need to be the most popular, simply the best is enough.

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  19. I cannot tell you how much I disagree with the premise above, Nokia’s strategy in using two [open] platforms utterly precludes it from choosing Android.

    It is the openness of the platform that will allow Nokia to differentiate itself from its competitors, and MeeGo is hardly new, it is the latest evolution of something that started as a tablet n770 several years ago.

    MeeGo offers a very bright future for Nokia:

    http://jedibeeftrix.wordpress.com/2010/06/06/ultimate-convergance-device-nokia-and-the-meego-tablet-phone/

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  20. Right Dennis!!

    The issue is involvement of developers more than the design of OS. Maemo was a good step over Nokia N900 and those who used it can support that it shown lots of potential. MeeGo somehow seems to contain all the good things from Maemo and try to extend the same with Qt frame work that would make development for Symbian and MeeGo smoother and in sync.

    Currently their issues are high cost for developer to get his app added in Ovi Store or to get it signed from Nokia. Developers are more attracted to other OSs due to larger audience and the fact that they have to make the apps over strongest of hardware, while Nokia’s OS targeting a much bigger audience in terms of hardware.

    It makes very much sense to keep Symbian alive for lower range and MeeGo for higher. People might think that they are confused, but they are not. Its their exclusive need coz they cater from 1k mobile to 35k

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  21. Just as an OS, Android, IOS and MeeGO are not very attractive propositions without content and services that revolve around them.
    Apple and Android have set the bar with common services (e.g. Google Maps). An OS without a good set of services will not that much useful. Available services must also meet customer’s expectations. For instance RIM Map user experience is very poor compared to what is available on iPhone and Android.
    Another important point to consider is the price point of Android devices. These are becoming cheaper and has started to compete with med tier devices offered by Nokia and other manufacturers. In 1+ year, the smartphone market will be larger than the feature phone’s in developed countries. This trend will also reach the emerging markets once price points are low enough.
    Nokia may follow the WebOS failure if they do not provide expected services and applications. Right now the entire developer community is behind Android and iPhone, will Nokia and Microsoft succeed in capturing enough market share?

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  22. Yes! I am happy that someone as significant as you in the blogging community finally says it.
    Kevin well said :)

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  23. This is not an all-or-nothing proposition for Nokia, I really don’t see the harm in experimenting here. To be relevant in the U.S. smartphone market Nokia needs to play catch-up in the app marketplace, that’s what’s drawing consumers and that’s where they need to focus (that and continuing to build quality, differentiated hardware.) Nokia can innovate/customize on the UI, building a seamless experience to Ovi, consumers don’t really care what’s under the hood, that’s already commodity.

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  24. I really really really disagree with this article. What we need is CHOICE! Apple and Google dominate the market and it’s a monopoly right now in the smart-phone market. I really like that Palm and Nokia have decided to spice things up and give open source a good name. Palm and Nokia aren’t afraid to take a chance and I think it will payoff once they develop their direction. I can’t wait to see what MeeGo will be able to do because to be honest I’m tired of the limitations of Android and Apple’s monopolistic hold on iOS.
    Everyone just wait till Intel and Nokia get their game together. I’m excited!!!

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  25. Kevin, I think it comes down to Nokia having to decide whether it is a software company or a hardware company. The former means longer-term support for the hardware it puts out, especially high-end phones, which in turn means better quality phones, with faster processors, more RAM and better battery life and screens. It’s really disturbing to me that Apple continued to support the original iPhone for three years, while the N900, a phone that’s less than a year old and shipped with beta-quality firmware has been completely abandoned by Nokia. If they’re going to remain a hardware company, though, then it makes absolute sense to move to Android.

    Additionally, if it chooses to be a software company, Nokia needs to execute on its vision for longer than six months at a time, before refocusing on the next shiny thing. You may recall Ari Jaaksi, amongst others, laying out a six-step adoption plan for Maemo about a year ago; the N900 was marked as step 5, and about a year after the N900 came out, the consumer-focused Maemo 6 would be released. Unfortunately, since then, Nokia’s had another round of its usual schizophrenia, partnered with someone new (Intel), and tossed its old plans out of the window. So instead of having an awesome, end-user-ready platform for phones in the form of Maemo 6, we have yet another developer-focused release of something that will be okay on phones, laptops, printers, toasters, fridges and so on. This is what is killing Nokia – partners and developers can be patient up to a point, but until Nokia gets its act together, commits to a plan AND STICKS TO IT, there is no way the platform is going to gain any traction.

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  26. I’m a professional developer (usually on windows) and I tried desperately to develop for Maemo. After months of dealing with lousy doc, non-working source examples, and just plain awful architecture I gave up. I tried on Android and had something working in both the simulator and the phone in a day. Unless Meego is way better for developers than Maemo it’s a failure already. QT is fine, but Nokia bought that and it mainly generates a gui. Nokia has zero credibility in my developer book.

    What Google did right was to provide (at version 1.0) a mature development environment with a simulator and great Java support. I don’t expect that from Meego.

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  27. Alok Saboo, you said it, 100%. I have used the Nokia N95 8GB for 2 years, seen the N97 and thought it was the best thing ever, seen the wave of capacitive screens, seen Android and HTC grow like crazy; and I must say, now with my HTC EVO 4G, I am happy AND unhappy. I agree with everyone else that backs Nokia.

    There is no short amount of problematic stories dealing with the HTC EVO. The build quality is horrendous and so is the customer support. Nokia, on the other hand, has ALWAYS been extremely nice to me in the few times I ever had to call them during my tenure with that phone. They always knew EXACTLY what they were talking about over the phone, and the phone’s hardware IS IN FACT built to last (whoever disagrees doesn’t truly know). I’ve dropped my phone in water, on concrete; the thing never stops. Ultimately it kept restarting so I switched after 2 years.

    The EVO’s Android OS done by Nokia would be the best phone of all time. I was looking forward to the N900 so much but I find that the EVO’s OS is so much more intuitive with what you can do (maybe I’m wrong). Nokia needs to get Android. It is true that they don’t sacrifice on build quality, but Symbian was a strong OS, and Nokia does know how to pick em. However, to be viable at all, they NEED to go to Android. They can grow and compete.

    Symbian lacks now, and Nokia should focus on hardware. Heck, alot of what we see today, Nokia innovated.

    By the same token, going to Android just makes Nokia sit and wait for the OS to develop in order for it to make new hardware to fit the new versions. There has to be some kind of middle ground. Nokia will never get the amount of people it needs in the US off of MeeGo. We are too firmly entrenched in complacency.

    I think Nokia is in quite the predicament. Luis’ recommendation of pulling and Apple with 1 flagship device and a new OS is a smart idea, but the point remains: How can Nokia compete with companies that have already HUGE legions of people? Do you like MeeGo enough to forgo all your iPhone apps? That is the question. Is Nokia interested enough in US financial viability that they won’t need to go to Android to be competitive? You also have to realize that the ‘common man’ doesn’t even fully know Android yet. They only know BlackBerry and Apple, at least in the US. Android is slowly building cachet, and it’s hard. I don’t know what Nokia should do, but I guarantee that the loyalists here don’t represent most of the US.

    Nokia’s original N95 was the first modern smartphone all-in-one device in my opinion. We used to think of these phones as almost mini computers. What FTW said makes a great deal of sense: “Nokia’s best bet is to kill the app concept. Embrace the cloud, embrace the browser, embrace the world of open standards.”

    1 problem: Do you think carriers will subsidize a new phone with this new OS to COMPETE against their flagship Android and iOS? I am not so sure but I would love to try such a thing.

    I don’t think there’s any denying that Apple made a very seamless and intuitive phone, and the iPhone app market pretty much destroys that of Android’s, but I must say, Palm’s WebOS and whatever Nokia is cooking up will always be interesting and beautiful. If courting developers, however, is a big deal, then the company with the most eyes gets them the most $.

    Also, I agree completely with Varun.

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  28. I think Nokia will be worse of next year or two years down the row, case in point: they still haven’t learn from their Maemo failure (or haven’t realized how big a failure Maemo is) and is still trying to push two OS at the same time.

    Nokia has been saying they want to “move on” for year, I remember even before Sony killed off the UIQ, even before they they brought QT, which frankly was just a crappy UI front end. They KNEW they need to pick a OS for the high end phone and they stull pushed S60V5 instead of Maemo. S60V5 was garbage, only Nokia fans has the thick skin to call it a smart os.

    Now, they are doing it AGAIN with Meego and Symbian^3. Symbian^3 is just a reskin crappy S60V5, with the added bonus of broken back compatibility. MeeGo is just a crappy Maemo with broken Maemo compatibility. Judging from the early efforts, there are more intel mobilin bits in it than Maemo bit, which is one of the worst Linux port by the way. At Version 5 it still had no Asian language support.

    Symbian^3 should have never exist and shouldn’t be put into any production phone. And Nokia insist to put this crap on the street. So the OS confusion and chaos will continue inside Nokia.

    Until Nokia have completed ditched Symbian^3 and have a functional Meego, Nikoa hugh end phones will go no where. That’s at leasst 3 years down the line. By that time both Android and iPhone OS will have developed into not only matured phone OS but also low end laptop OS.

    Nokia is going down no matter how you slice it.

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  29. Just read this post and the one I’m linking to below. I have no direct involvement in the link, so this isn’t spam! Just thought readers here would find it interesting. Best regards.

    http://ebb.org/bkuhn/blog/2010/07/15/motorola-admits.html

    I was therefore intrigued to discover last night (via mtrausch) a February blog post by Lori Fraleigh of Motorola, wherein Fraleigh clarifies Motorola’s opposition to software freedom for its Android/Linux users:

    “We [Motorola] understand there is a community of developers interested in … Android system development … For these developers, we highly recommend obtaining either a Google ADP1 developer phone or a Nexus One … At this time, Motorola Android-based handsets are intended for use by consumers.”

    I appreciate the fact that Fraleigh and Motorola are honest in their disdain for software developers. Unlike Apple — who tries to hide how developer-unfriendly its mobile platform is — Motorola readily admits that they seek to leave developers as helpless as possible, refusing to share the necessary tools that developers need to upgrade devices and to improve themselves, their community, and their software.

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  30. [...] wish the survey asked whether it would matter to developers if Nokia adopted Android for smartphones going forward. I think it would, for the sales momentum reason alone. Even though the Android Market is far from [...]

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  31. Kevin, I agree most of the times with your viewpoints, but I think this time, you are wrong.
    – Short term and “US based thinking” : yes, Nokia could profit from shifting towards Android.
    – Long term and “world based thinking” : it would change Nokia into a (boring) box-mover.

    Personally, I believe in the direction Nokia is heading towards. Their smartphone sales went back up to a 41% marketshare worldwide, even though they are in a transition period and are recovering from the N96 disaster.

    With the upcoming N8 phone, which I’m pretty sure will be a very big success outside the US, they are taking a new start and pave the way for the first MeeGo phone.
    The Qt development platform will do the rest.

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  32. Symbian is dead… Meego is NOT a valid replacement.

    Before you criticize this read on… I used to call on Nokia as a vendor and to this day still believe they have over time presented some of the BEST hardware in the market. The gaping hole has always been the software. S40 and midrange platforms were good; not very sexy but acceptable. S60 has been a disaster as smartphones have evolved – and a transition to more modern Symbian codebase isn’t going to solve anything.

    Unless Nokia steps up to the plate with a worldwide “carrier loved” platform they are toast with Meego.

    They had the chance with S60 and blew it by NOT focusing on carrier needs for the US. May not sound like a big deal but Apple, Blackberry and now Android have worldwide platforms that attack all markets. The mere fact that Nokia basically let the US spiral worse and worse down the exec attention span signed the Nokia smartphone death.

    As a mid tier provider Nokia still dominates. However the higher end phones out their on Android, Apple and even RIM and the now dying Palm are positioned better in most markets than Nokia.

    What Nokia excels in should be their differentiation regardless of the platform they choose. The problem is NO one wants to buy a smartphone now with a limited application library – you can see this by the poor Kin sales – the handset if you played with it was good (ok ugly) – but the clear issue was there was no enhancement path or app platform path for the user. When you looked at an Android phone competing with a subsidy – it won out and the user would pick that.

    Nokia is in the same dilemma today; Symbian to Meego; who cares when the app developers aren’t stepping forward. True you have the scandic Nokia centric dev community that will support the platform but even most of them have moved to developing for iPhone and Android. In the priority of things it’s Apple and Android as Tier 1 with RIM and Palm as the tier 2 platforms – in some verticals though RIM and Palm do shine brighter but not across the board.

    Nokia should even if it does cause considerable pain do the following:
    – Continue to develop RTOS/low end phones on S40; enhance the platform to bring social networking and multimedia and UI in line with entry level smart phones.
    – Abandon Symbian and Meegoo… Too little too late – too many false starts… It’s over
    – Focus on Android but PROVIDE KEY differentiation as follows:
    * Nokia hardware; ID (plastic is for low end only)
    * Nokia RF: always the best in the industry
    * Nokia reliability: focus on building solid handsets with no out of box issues
    * Nokia worldwide dominance: dominate the distribution path in Tier 2 markets; iPhone’s are EVERYWHERE in Tier 2 markets like India, China, Africa… they are not affordable to everyone but they are viewed as a status symbol – Nokia’s distribution in these markets is heck of a lot better than Apple, HTC, etc…
    * Nokia accessories; They understand this better than anyone – make the accessories for the handsets – make buying a Nokia Android handset a good decision buy ensuring accessories are in the market. HTC is pathetic at this and Apple has no clue sometimes…

    Bring Nokia services/apps to Android but only to Nokia handsets. Sure Android is open but make buying a Nokia Android handset a value add proposition.

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  33. Now what I dont understand is why nokia cant develop phones on multiple platforms viz android,symbian,windows 7 like Samsung.Heck Samsung is even developing the Bada OS too…why should nokia put all eggs in one basket???

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  34. [...] — notably Motorola and HTC — are reaping rewards by growing profits. For that reason, I previously suggested that Nokia embrace Android too. Savander disagreed — in fact, he began our conversation by asking me to justify my [...]

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  35. [...] previously argued that Nokia is a hardware maker that wants to be a software and services company. Naming Elop to the top spot continues Nokia’s desire to excel in software and services. Why? [...]

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