Nokia, Are you frigging kidding me?!?

29 Jun


This is the first question which comes to my mind once I got over the euphoria of previewing the new Nokia N9 in all its form and glory. Nokia this week previewed N9 running on the much talked about (and seemingly doomed) MeeGo OS. Nokia with the Harmattan interfaced MeeGo 1.2 has distanced itself far from the bugged, slow and the “not at all touch centric” Symbian and Qt support.

MeeGo is the result of a joint venture by Nokia and Intel into building upon Nokia’s already promising Maemo OS (Remember N900? Anyone?) and Intel’s Moblin . After investing in Maemo for years and then for around twelve months with Intel in MeeGo, Stephen Elop (CEO, Nokia) deemed Symbian and MeeGo “a burning platform” in February this year. Stephen went on to say that if Nokia wanted to survive and compete at all levels it has to “take a bold and brave step into an uncertain future.” Nokia thought that committing to Windows Phone 7 as their only OS for smartphones was that step. So one of the biggest collaborations in the history of the market came into being. Nokia – the premier phone manufacturer and a “has been leader” teamed up with Microsoft – the company that revolutionized computing to deliver Microkia branded Windows Phone 7.

It seemed the right choice at that point of time, Symbian was going nowhere and we had seen nothing of the MeeGo to make us believe in it. Between Android and Windows Phone 7, I guess it came down to an economic factor which mattered most. According to reports, Microsoft paid Nokia more than $1Billion as a part of this deal. On the other hand Android Phones apart from fighting iOS and Windows Phone 7 are competing amongst themselves on a more spec-driven basis with introduction of many dual core phones.

Nokia N9!! .... Sigh!!

Now let’s fast-forward to this week, when I first read a tweet saying that Nokia posted previews of N9 a MeeGo based device, I hoped for their own sake that it sucked. It did not. I hoped that they put up just a prototype device which did not have anything else to showcase other than MeeGo. They did not. I thought it was just a PR exercise justifying their claims that MeeGo is a dead end and requires too much time. It was not. Nokia N9 has everything you would want from a smartphone. The spec-sheet though not mind blowing, is very competitive. The Design factor is new, innovative and looks just brilliant. Carved from a single block of polycarbonate, Nokia is particularly proud of the chassis (No wonder why!). Then the last part of the jigsaw puzzle, is the UI, and it does not disappoint. MeeGo is nothing short of fresh, intriguing and unique. It seems to have no virtual lag, the touch is very responsive and its appearance is slick. Nokia took upon the challenge of delivering a touch centric UI which was not bogged down by the Symbian influence and it seems they have delivered. To top it all up, MeeGo is expected to run Android apps through Myriad’s Alien Dalvik software without Nokia having to do anything at all.

Now the burning question! Why did Nokia leave MeeGo in the lurch? The decision to jump ship seemed right when there was no way to know which way MeeGo was headed. But Elop must have had a fair idea what MeeGo was and could deliver. If not, then how come a handful of developers(as most of them are working on the Microkia Project and around 7000 employees were either restructured and reassigned or let off) were able to deliver a product and an OS which is so refined and new. How was this “League of Ordinary Developers” able to change the course of a dead end, non-functioning OS in a span of 5 months into something all people who have check it out feel excited about?

Nokia N950! .... Sighs once more!!

Nokia is not stopping at releasing just the N9, they are also releasing limited edition N950 just for Developers (N950 also knocked my socks off, it looks nothing short of mind blowing). This is what irks me the most. Why did they release a phone with an OS which is going nowhere? Why would you buy a phone loaded with an OS which the company itself is trying and planning to get rid off? Why will a developer buy the phone and develop any sort of an application when he knows that there is no future to this OS or this phone and that in some time it is not going to get any kind of support from the company either? On the contrary if Nokia does plan to take MeeGo forward then it is even more ridiculous because just a few months ago Nokia wrote off anything which was not Windows Phone7. I hope there is no truth to all the stories and rumors of “trojan horses and moles” (Stephen Elop is a former Executive of Microsoft, its easy to produce a rumor out of nothing).It is really difficult to understand what is going on at Nokia at present!

Post Elop-calypse – Rather than being concrete and certain about their future, Nokia seem to be in more of a mess. MeeGo is far from being an OS on which a company like Nokia could depend upon completely. It lacks extended support and functionality which can only be provided by developers. MeeGo needs its company’s support to develop these functionalities. But Windows Phone7 too, to some extent suffers from the same shortcomings. It might change after the much awaited release of the Mango update (Windows Phone 7.5), but its not going to change overnight. Yet the fact that it comes from the stables of Microsoft does justify the strategic decision of teaming up. The deal with Microsoft is not wrong, Nokia needed the billion dollars, it did need the marketing impetus,the branding and the presence Microsoft brought to it. The only problem is that Nokia need not have decided on Windows being the only horse to carry its chariot forward. The home bred MeeGo could have partnered the Windows Platform very well. Through MeeGo, Nokia would have been able to retain its image, identity and control over their OS. They could have used their years of experience possibly combined with proper innovation and they may still have had a winner on their hands. Lastly I really hope we do not lose out on MeeGo, it really packs a punch and has inculcated some really nice concepts under its hood.

Tushar Chhajed while taking his never ending strolls argues upon the effects of taking up stoicism as a way of living. He is still trying to fight the nail biting demons. To know more about stoicism, professional nail biting and technology you can mail him at tusharchhajed@gmail.com or follow him on twitter.

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2 Responses to “Nokia, Are you frigging kidding me?!?”

  1. Paritosh September 11, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

    I will not argue with you over this matter but I’ve got 2 things to say:
    1. Symbian/MeeGo were NEVER a “burning platform”. From what I have seen over the past few years, since the introduction of Android is that Nokia failed to calculate the competition. It couldn’t polish symbian, nor it was creative enough to improvise. End result, the blame was put on Symbian, quoting it as a OS with age old programming.
    2. Nokia Microsoft partnership will prosper. Not anytime soon but certainly in near future. Reason? Nokia has got the ability to manufacture solid hardware plus has the experience of developing one of the most used mobile OS. Microsoft on the other hand can make use of it’s wide Windows users and can combine “One place for all” concept for mobile as well as desktop users.

    • Tushar Chhajed September 11, 2011 at 5:48 pm #

      I agree on both the points you make here. I never said that Symbian/Meego were bad OS’ or as matter of fact burning platforms, but when Nokia (the flag-bearer of both the operating systems) plan to leave them in the ditch in the next couple of years it is a matter of concern. I think you will notice that i was blown away by N9. The design and Meego itself is nothing short of brilliant. And about Microsoft and Nokia, well i can just imagine what will happen next. But i so seriously wish that Nokia would have invested a little more time or faith in Meego and Symbian (with what little i have seen and heard abt Belle i think they are just couple of updates away from being right up there) they would have been able to really do good. Microsoft + Nokia is good. But it would have been better if they also had Meego and Symbian in their stables.

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