Nokia make Windows Phone their strategic smartphone OS
The news has been everywhere, including the BBC television bulletins: Nokia are abadonning hopes of owning the entirety of their stack and the board – led by CEO Stephen Elop – has decided to partner with Microsoft. The main reasons cited are Nokia's lack of ability to deliver a next generation mobile OS, and an ecosystem to go with it. Elop's conclusion is to go back to his old employer and use their OS, platform and ecosystem: “Nokia will adopt Windows Phone as its primary smartphone strategy, innovating on top of the platform in areas such as imaging, where Nokia is a market leader. Nokia will help drive and define the future of Windows Phone. Nokia will contribute its expertise on hardware design, language support, and help bring Windows Phone to a larger range of price points, market segments and geographies. Microsoft development tools will be used to create applications to run on Nokia Windows Phones, allowing developers to easily leverage the ecosystem’s global reach.” Reaction has not been positive. Some elements of the US technical press are enthusiastic, but Nokia shares were down 15% following the news and the reaction from developers has been swift and visceral. Nokia finally had a good developer story: Symbian at the mid-range, MeeGo at the high-end with Qt and QML as the common development platform; and were delivering some cutting edge and exciting developer tools (such as the new Qt Creator with QML support). It is sad to see that MeeGo hasn't been given a chance, and one wonders how things might have been different were Nokia to push MeeGo forward hard, and release a couple of astounding devices this year. Having said that, it's easy to see what each side gets:
* Nokia don't join an existing ecosystem with established players and commodity hardware. However, they do leap frog the development of their own OS and get one ready made whilst also reducing costs.
* Microsoft get an experienced, big name hardware vendor on side for a platform which is otherwise quite niche. They get global supply chain and logistics, as well as access to some services.
Your editor, along with many others, was looking forward to an updated N900, running an evolution of Maemo 5 with a shinier user interface; better battery life and slightly less bulk. Looking around the mobile landscape, there's no obvious alternative at the moment, with HP's webOS series of devices looking most likely. It's sad to think that the N900 might have been a “Concorde moment”; and Nokia's MeeGo device will be treated similarly to the 770 five years ago, but without the future promise of OS 2005. Unless there's a change in Nokia's leadership (or at least Nokia's leadership's mind), the MeeGo device from Nokia will be stillborn.
There are, of course, many others involved in MeeGo, and so MeeGo itself may see some traction, especially in tablet computers. However, getting another major consumer electronics manufacturer to make MeeGo a core plank of its strategy – when they see that one of MeeGo's cofounders won't – will be hard work.
But there is a possible benefit to existing N900 users. With no clear successor device, some people will keep theirs for a bit longer, others – who may have been waiting for the Harmattan device – may now buy one. This means the Community SSU can have more users, more developers and more polish. Already we've seen patches which fix hildon-desktop's CPU eating bug; make Modest work better offline; make Modest more conformant to standards; an improved TV-out control panel plugin; an improved notification LED control panel plugin and so on. Many of these also widen the system's support of portrait usage.
We also already have improved development tools with the Qt SDK. Although there may not be a compelling new device, we have a reinvigorated platform. Maybe that's enough.
Intel and Linux Foundation react with surprise and disappointment, but still have hopes for MeeGo
Nokia's decision came as much as a surprise to their MeeGo partners as it did to the rest of us. In separate announcements, both Intel and Jim Zemlin (Executive Director of the Linux Foundation) claim that although they're disappointed with Nokia's decision, MeeGo continues for them. Respectively: “Although Nokia has been an important partner to Intel and MeeGo and we are disappointed by this decision, it’s important to know that this is by no means the end of MeeGo or the end to Intel’s commitment and the continued progress MeeGo has made and is making to the multi-device ecosystem.”
“The Linux Foundation is disappointed in Nokia's decision today to choose Microsoft as the primary platform for its mobile phones. Tough times give birth to difficult decisions that we don't always agree with, but open source is — at its core — about choice. We believe that open source software is more than a sum of its parts, and the market is currently bearing that out.” There is no word yet as to the effect on MeeGo's marketing budget, with the MeeGo Conference in San Francisco in May approaching quickly.
MeeGo tablets and smartphones at Mobile World Congress?
There's not much to say about a photo of Intel's MeeGo stand at next week's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona; however there are rumours we'll see some real devices (rather than reference designs); and this photo shows a handset (in an LG style?) as well as a full featured tablet.
In this edition (Download)…
- Front Page
- Nokia make Windows Phone their strategic smartphone OS
- Intel and Linux Foundation react with surprise and disappointment, but still have hopes for MeeGo
- MeeGo tablets and smartphones at Mobile World Congress?
- Qt Creator tips for producing autobuilder source packages and skipping packaging for fast testing
- Maps & navigation in Qt on N900 using snapshots
- Work to get cell broadcast messages working on N900
- Qt’s future
- Quim Gil thoughts
- What now for MeeGo? Some proposals
- Intel unveil MeeGo 1.2’s Tablet UX
- In the Wild
- Myriad Alien Dalvik allows Android apps on Maemo
- CEO of Nokia lays out the problems in internal memo
- Developers already start abadonning Qt
- Mosquitto for MQ Telemetry Transport publish/subscribe for Maemo 4 & 5
- SMSBomb for sending a specified number of SMS messages to a number
- TwimGo 2.7 updated with bug fixes and new dark theme