Friday, February 11, 2011

Nokia + WP7 and the fate of Meego

Big news for Nokia and WP7 fans today with the announcement of a partnership between Nokia and Micosoft to release a range of WP7 based Nokia handsets.  Hopefully for Nokia this can help increase their flagging smartphone market share.  However for me this raises some importatnt questions about the fate of Meego which I was really looking forward to seeing hit the handset market this year.  Sadly it looks like there will not be the proliferation of Meego devices I was hoping to see.  Nokia released a rather cryptic statement about future Meego development:

"MeeGo will place increased emphasis on longer-term market exploration of next-generation devices."

What this actually means remains to be seen but they have confirmed they will release one Meego handset this year.  Given that the scope of Meego is quite broad, aimed at everything from in vehicle systems to netbooks we may see it popping up on other devices soon it's clear that it will not be Nokia's focus for it's return to the smartphone market in the short term.

I hope there is still a future for Meego on handsets especially with the announcement of the Dalvik Alien VM for running Android apps on non Android devices which would combine the existing Android development ecosystem with Nokia's handsets.  Given that Meego is a partnership between Intel and Nokia I would be interested to hear Intel's thoughts on this new deal.

This is certainly sad news for fans of Maemo 5, Meego and open source operating systems generally but WP7 is a solid mobile OS and Nokia definitely need to move away from Symbian if they want to be taken seriously in the high end smartphone market.  This new gambit with WP7's success will be highly dependent on how much traction WP7 can achieve with consumers over the next year or so.  I'm also guessing that Microsoft is hoping to piggy back on Nokia's brand reputation and following in order to get the general public interested in WP7 which, while still in it's early stages, has yet to gain much of a following amongst consumers.

While Maemo 5 is a truly excellent mobile OS and Meego has tons of potential I fear that this may be the end of Meego handsets as a serious competitor to Android and iOS, at least in 2011.


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