Are you liking what you’re seeing from the Nokia N900 (s nok) and its Maemo operating system? Nokia hopes so because it let loose that Symbian S60 is hitting the recycle bin by 2012 on its N-series line of devices. Assuming that the Mayans don’t get involved in any calendar tomfoolery, you’ll see Maemo on all N-series handsets by then. That’s the word from a Maemo event held yesterday in London — bear in mind that it was a Maemo event, meaning that Nokia hasn’t officially stated this in any formal capacity.
The news makes sense in several way, though. By comparison, the S60 user interface is looking older than that Mayan calendar as each day goes on. And Nokia left the door open for this very scenario back in August when Om asked the company about a potential dumping of Symbian. Here are quotes back then from a Nokia representative, emphasis mine:
“[t]here is logically not just one software environment that fits all consumer and market needs,”
“In addition, as we’ve stated before, we also continue to explore opportunities around a new class of devices that we see as the next segment of high performance mobile devices.”
Those opportunities are surely Maemo at this point, with the N900 currently starting to ship. “Consumer and market needs” are indeed changing as well — and Nokia must change with them, or else become irrelevant. The bulk of the company’s handsets are low-end, low-margin feature phones, and the rising trend of smartphone sales tells Nokia where the near future is. For Nokia to regain lost market share and earn more profit per handset, it needs to reinvent its smartphone line. Maemo looks to be it, while I’d wager that S60 moves down the line to become the “new” feature phone-plus for Nokia.