The device was described at the announcement as the result of Nokia’s MeeGo project and is described in specifications as “MeeGo 1.2 Harmattan”. As widely expected, it has a Maemo base (“Harmattan”) with a MeeGo API. From the perspective of application developers and end users alike, the phone appears as a MeeGo handset although that technically may not be correct. Nevertheless, notwithstanding the lack of technical compliance, the device is widely described as a MeeGo device and hoped to lift the profile of the MeeGo project. Nokia also initiated much activity surrounding the device at www.meego.com, including threads in the MeeGo forum, to describe aspects of the device. As first reported in the previous Council posting, the N9 has both a closed mode and an open (developer) mode. Root access and terminal are available as well. Nokia also announced the availability of a limited number of N950 developer devices in an attempt to increase the number of apps available for the N9 at launch.
Nokia made no outreach to maemo.org during the N9 launch. Although not formally reported as such, Nokia received an “exception” from the Linux Foundation for the N9 and is freely using the meego.com infrastructure to provide community support for the N9. In addition, it was announced that OBS would include Harmattan as a target and that the community apps repository for MeeGo would include Harmattan apps. While there is reason for increased optimisim for the future of MeeGo, the relationship between Maemo, Nokia and MeeGo is left somewhat out on a limb. In an IRC meeting with maemo.org council, new Nokia liaison Matti Arias confirmed that all of Nokia’s Maemo/MeeGo related ifs focused on promoting the N9. Such promotion will not involve maemo.org.
The future of maemo.org is uncertain. While there may be a new sub-forum for the N9/N950 devices, it is mainly for organizational purposes as maemo.org is unlikely to be the “home base” for the devices. There are numerous directions in which the community may move. For example, the Swipe UI/UX layer of the N9 is closed source and so there will be interest in developing an open source community alternative. Alternatively, the community can simply continue on with support for previous versions of Maemo. The staying power of maemo.org in the two year interim between the N900 and the N9 has been recognized even by Nokia. There are approximately 1 million downloads per week. A minimal level of support will continue to be provided by Nokia for at least a year. In keeping with its history of open governance, the community itself must decide the best direction forward.