A Final Goodbye to Nokia and a Hello to Android

Just a little over a year ago, I detailed why I opted for Nokia’s Maemo powered N900 instead of an Android device. To be precise, I purchased my Nokia N900 on the 4th of Jan 2011, and wow, what an excitement it was to hold such an incredible device. A full blown, Debian based GNU/Linux OS in my pocket.

However, it was not long to be before the groundbreaking, expertly leaked burning platform memo to Engadget and the subsequent Elopcalypse of Feb 11 2011. For long time Nokia loyalists like yours truly, it was like a dream shattered. We’d always dreamed of having MeeGo as the third force in a fiercely competitive arena dominated by the two tech giants of North America: Google with their Android offering and Apple with iOS.
But the all knowing Nokia board knew better. To salvage Nokia from its not so desperate situation, they had to bring in a former Microsoft employee to head a company that was at the forefront of pushing GNU/Linux to millions of people around the world. And as was expected, the inevitable happened: the bringing to its knees of one of the most powerful and recognized technology companies on Earth. 

Using the N900 is an experience worth savoring. But the device was rapidly ageing(aged?) given it only shipped with 256MB of RAM, Nokia had discontinued support for it, leaving only the very wonderful Maemo community on their own, new applications rarely got published among a myriad of other factors. Thus I felt the need for a new device, and quite naturally I opted for Android this time around.

Of course I know of the Nokia N9 and N950 both running MeeGo, but with the frantic effort Nokia’s CEO is making to sabotage the success of the those devices, I logically shunned them, fearing Espoo will pull another N900 on users of those two phones. 

You’re wondering what device I went for right? Haha. I opted for the Motorola Atrix. After a long and careful searching and considering the price range of the various devices on the retail market here in Accra Ghana, I opted to go for the Atrix which is both a good bang for the money.

Retailing at $400 on Amazon, it packs all the goodies of a modern Android device (yea well not considering the slew of devices being announced at CES 2012). Running Gingerbread on an Nvidia Tegra 2 Dual-core 1 GHz Cortex-A9 with 1GB of RAM, it’s more than adequate for an intensive mobile user like myself. 

As I’ve stated before, the Nokia N900 was my last Nokia device, until perhaps Elop is fired and the Nokia board wakes up and realizes gallows they’re being led into, it’s a goodbye Nokia and all your offerings and hello Android. It was really nice knowing you, Nokia, for more than 10 solid years of my less than 3 decades old. 

[VIDEO] Nokia N950 Detailed Hands on

The you-will-see-but-can’t-have Nokia N950 MeeGo powered developer only phone has been spotted in the wild. In this hands on video from Thailand, the reviewer gives a detailed look into the next-gen Nokia device that is bound to be loner in its class. 
After watching this video, only one question comes to mind; Steve Elop, why, oh why? 🙁

The N9 – A parting gift from Nokia before ending up in Microsoft stables?

The much awaited, “market disruption” MeeGo powered device promised us by Steven Elop, after his February 11 elopcalypse is out. And it brings with it more questions for both Nokia and potential buyers than answers.

Another N900?
As an N900 user, I found myself asking the question: what’s the guarantee that Nokia won’t pull another N900 on those that by the N9? After all the N9 runs Harmattan, a successor to Maemo 5. Is Nokia going to keep supporting this MeeGo baked Maemo after it starts shipping its WP7 line of devices?

If it suddenly decides to abandon it like the N900, is it going to keep the closed components of the code to itself such that independent developers cannot continue with support, just like on the N900?

To be fair to Nokia, the N9 packs some pretty impressive albeit not wowing specs in its slick design. But will that, coupled with the application development platform Qt be enough to lure developers to the phone? We wait to see.

Pacifying the bashers?
Is the release of the N9 more a pacification of the bashers of Nokia than anything to do with market share? It will not be far fetched to say it’ll be hard for the N9 to make any significant difference in the overall smartphone market. So then we ask the question, is this more of pacification of Nokia critiques than anything else.

Let’s not forget that after the Feb 11 elopcalypse, Steven Elop had to organize another press conference to clarify the first one thanks to the unprecendeted bashing of the company in the media; both main stream and the blogosphere. So is this phone just to pacify those voices?

Strategy fit?
It’s also very hard to see where in the currnt Nokia strategy (yes they do have one :D) that this release fits into. WP7 is the primary platform, Symbian will still lurk in the corner for a few years, and MeeGo was supposed to be the market disruption wedge.

But can the N9 really be described as a market disruption device? If the N9 should be a surprising success, will it cause Nokia to once again rethink its overall strategy such that Linux and open source once again get to be the center of the company’s business? How much resources is Elop willing to devote to the marketing of a Linux device seeing he owns a stake in Microsoft?

There are a lot of unanswered questions in the wake of the release of the N9. It wll be difficult to see how Nokia intends to market devices powered by two very separate and highly competitive platforms with starkly different ideologies and ecosystems.

When all is said and done thus, the conclusion that can be objectively reached is that the N9 is more a parting gift from Nokia to the Linux and open source world before its full immersion into the WP7 tide more than anything else.

But will the market agree?

MeeGo N900 Developer Edition now Community Edition

An announcement on the MeeGo-qa mailing list just out is reporting a change in the name of the MeeGo edition for the N900. It used to be the Developer Edition- not for the faint of heart. Now we’re being told it’s going to be called the N900 Community Edition.

It’s not clear the reason behind the change. I hope it’s in line with the hopes of N900 users to see a properly working MeeGo port for the N900. Below is the full text of the message.

Hi,
Because the N900 DE changed it’s name to N900 Community Edition = N900CE, following changes are done in Bugzilla:
Keyword N900 –> N900CE

–       If you see any bugs with N900CE keyword and doesn’t occure with CE image, please feel free to remove the keyword, I will do that also.
(HW) Platform -> N900 for every bug having the old N900 Keyword
MeeGo_N900DE_Release_Blocker -> MeeGo_N900CE_Release_Blocker

Remember to update your search strings, the older ones doesn’t work anymore if you have used DE there.

When filing a new bug for the N900CE, use prefix [CE] in the summary. If it’s not only CE bug, the prefix needs to be removed.
Add platform N900.

Br,
Iekku

Nokia Mulls Over An iPad Rival

After dumping MeeGo and jumping on the WP7 train, Nokia CEO Steven Elop has indicated the Finnish company is mulling over a tablet pc to rival the *ahem* iPad. In an interview with Finnish news channel YLE (video is in English), he stated that he believes the success of any Nokia tablet should be able to stand out from the crowd of Android tablets to stand a chance of competing with the iPad.

In this wide ranging interview that touched on subjects like the rivalry with Google, fate of Symbian and MeeGo, the CEO did not make it clear which OS their upcoming tablet would run, whether WP7 or anything homegrown, MeeGo perhaps. He also explained why Nokia is of the view that Android is more a threat to their market strategy than iOS, saying Android has devices to cover every spectrum of the market while the iOS is mainly focused on the cream of it.

He also touched on the imminent layoff of close to 4000 Nokia employees over the coming year and explained the move to offload some employees to Accenture, saying they’ll be retrained to work on WP7. You can watch the entire interview (about 20 mins) which is in English for yourself.

Nokia Kills MeeGo and Symbian- Finally

Nokia has finally nailed the coffin for Symbian and MeeGo by announcing it will cut R&D staff dedicated to those two platforms, with some being transferred to Accenture, obviously to get them out of sight till Symbian dies a slow death. Well we all saw it coming didn’t we? The moment the so called burning platform memo was expertly “leaked” to Engadget, some of us were convinced Nokia had finally lost it.

Cutting the jobs of those in charge of these platforms underscores Nokia’s move to dump those two OS in favor of MS WP7. As to what Nokia means when they say “we plan to ship 150m more Symbian devices…” I don’t know. Cutting the jobs of the people in charge of the OS and claiming you will ship devices powered by that OS will only result in leaving users with no support from Nokia, a fate that has befallen N900 users. It’s not clear from the post also if Nokia will go ahead to release the so called MeeGo device they promised this year or if ever.

Take a sip of water and you’re behind in the pack. Blink your eye and watch the pack move in a different direction.

No Nokia, you did not take a sip, you kept committing one corporate blunder after the other. Finally, joining hands with Microsoft was the only route the management of the company could think of. Like one commmenter said in the linked post above,

This is so sad. Nokia’s problem wasn’t caused by the engineers who are losing their jobs. If anything, Nokia was known in the industry for having some of the best engineers. Nokia’s problem was caused by poor upper management. In this Microsoft deal upper management found a way to keep their jobs. The brain transfer from Nokia to their competitors is only going to make Nokia’s situation worse, but at least upper management will have jobs for the next couple of years. Bravo (…clap…clap…clap…).

Nokia’s case can be summed up in a local Ghanaian parlance that goes thus “monkey dey work, baboon dey chop” which roughly translates as it’s not always those who do the work that enjoy the fruits of it.

[Release] Open Media Player for Nokia N900

Muhammad Abu Garbiyeh, the lead developer of the Nokia CSSU has announced the alpha release of Open Media Player, a multimedia player he’s been working on for sometime now. Below is the full announcement as made on TMO.

Been showing this on the forums a lot, figured it’s about time I make a release.
Please note that this is an alpha release, the mediaplayer turned out to be a
bigger project than I expected

What’s not working (yet):

  • Categories view in Videos.
  • Resuming from paused position in videos.
  • libplayback, a notification will go through and will mute the player.
  • Deleting items from a playlist messes up numbering, fix planned.
  • Share and delete buttons in videos.

What needs to be done:

  • “Cheats” that will make the mediaplayer seem faster to the user (the stock player adds a song, starts playback, then adds all the other songs when you click a song, the implementation here is to add all songs then start playback, this is slow for the “All songs” view.
  • Detecting the current item in the Entertainment view (my QML skills are meh).
  • Implement mime_open (gnomevfs is always returning NULL for some reasno…) so other apps like qmltube can open media in the player.
  • Deleting albums/artists (deleting songs and playlists should work)

What’s new (not actually a lot):

  • Sharing songs via Bluetooth and E-Mail (thanks to CepiPerez for the dialog from filebox).
  • Portrait mode (obviously )
  • QML entrainment view, being in QML, this takes more memory and a bit more CPU time for transitions (even though they’re HW accelerated).
  • Closing the mediaplayer will not stop playback, this is configurable in settings (main view -> title bar menu -> Settings).

What’s planned:

  • Playlist creator and editor (stock implementation sucks).

All existing MAFW-based apps will work fine with this, the stock widget will open this mediaplayer, media-im-status-updater will fetch metadata correctly, etc…
To “replace” the stock player (if you don’t want to do that, use the script below).
Place the binary in /usr/local/bin/

Code:
<font face="verdana">nano /usr/share/dbus-1/services/com.nokia.mediaplayer.service</font>

Change /usr/bin/mediaplayer to /usr/local/bin/mediaplayer, note that this will cause mime_open to stop working until implemented.

BT headsets (with buttons) should work fine (tested with a BH-503).

To use alongside the stock player (tapping the stock widget will open the stock player):
Place the binary in /usr/local/bin/

QML files are to be installed in /opt/mediaplayer/qml/
I usually update the mediaplayer whenever I add something, so here’s a handy script to update it (or install it)

Code:
<font face="verdana">root apt-get install wget #if you don't have it installed. wget http://mohammadag.xceleo.org/public/maemo/install_mediaplayer.sh chmod +x install_mediaplayer.sh ./install_mediaplayer.sh</font>

Then whenever I release an update, use ./install_mediaplayer.sh to fetch it and overwrite the old version.
Want an icon in the menu? Run the script with –desktop-file (./install_mediaplayer –desktop-file).

Once all bugs are fixed, this will probably make its way into the CSSU, but right now, it’s a bit early.

Not sure if screenshots are necessary, it looks exactly like the stock player but with portrait mode.

Bug reports expected (lots of them) and are welcome.
Thanks to nicolai for the C++ MafwSource and MafwRenderer adapters.
Thanks to Venemo for the UI for the FMTX dialog (which is actually a rewrite, the stock one flips the player to landscape).
If you have jacekowski’s fmtxd, feel free to kill the checks done (headphones etc…) in the UI, it’s in settings.

Source is of course on gitorious: http://gitorious.org/qt-mediaplayer/mediaplayer

MeeGo Coding Competition 2011

The wait is over!

We are proud to announce the MeeGo Coding Competition 2011!

As successor it will follow the good example of the community driven Maemo Coding Competition 2010. Quim Gil wrote lot of good things about this “grass roots community success”.

To make this year’s competition bigger and better, we urge all MeeGo enthusiasts to organize events during the MeeGo Coding Competition 2011 in their Local MeeGo Network. We are sure that Intel and Nokia are going to assist you doing that. Please contact us, to get in touch with Intel and Nokia.

The Local MeeGo Network Berlin has planned the following events using the name “MeeGo Freeday“:

Coding Qt
Qt is a framework for a cross-platform application development. Qt is pre-installed on our beloved Nokia N900. Software development using Qt is also possible for MeeGo, Symbian and WebOS. All these platforms support Qt. There are also libraries for desktop systems, like Windows, Mac OS and Linux available. Unofficially, it is also running on Android and iOS.

Therefore, Qt is a very good base if you want to publish your app on as many platforms as possible!

You never coded using Qt? You are already a Qt pro and want to work with Qt developers? You still have questions? Then come to the Qt Workshop on 01 April 2011 in the c-base in Berlin! The Qt gurus of Qt Berlin are present and help you with advice and support! By all this Qt-iness don’t forget the next step: publish your app in the largest MeeGo AppStores: Intel AppUp and Nokia Ovi.

Nokia Ovi Workshop
Therefore, on 15 April 2011 there will be the Ovi workshop also in the c-base in Berlin. In this workshop Nokia’s specialists will teach you the process of publishing your app to the Ovi-Store.
Then you are a true Ovi professional. And who knows? Maybe there will be new info about Nokia’s secret MeeGo / Maemo device?

Intel AppLab
On 29 April 2011, we bring you the Intel AppLab to Berlin (of course also in the c-base)!
During the AppLab coding examples are shown and you will submit your app to the Intel AppUp store. At previous AppLabs developers got MeeGo hardware to take home. This time? Come and see for yourself!

Think global, act local
The MeeGo Coding Competition is not an event restricted to Berlin! Everyone can and should participate! Just as in Berlin, Local MeeGo Events and Intel AppLabs will take place in other cities countries. Moreover, the events in Berlin will be streamed live.

But apart from the educational events and the fun at coding what it’s in for you? … A lot!

Developers of promising apps will probably receive a MeeGo device.

If you will be selected by the community as one of the main winners, you will fly to the MeeGo Conference in November and sleep there in a nice hotel. There you will meet a lot of like-minded. Without having to pay a single cent.

If Nokia likes your app, they will preinstall it on their first MeeGo device!

But even if you won’t win one of the main prizes, that does not mean you get nothing! We will have cash prizes this time, too. Independent of sponsorship funds, last time the community extensively donated. About $ 1000.00 came together! Will we be able to beat this record-sum this year?

Procedure and rules of MeeGo Coding Competition 2011

To ensure that the event runs properly, there are a few essential rules:

  • Only individuals may participate. Companies are excluded from the competition because of equity reasons.
  • If you have coded your app in the team and you win on of the travels to the MeeGo Conference, your team has to designate a person as the winner.
  • Any number of apps can be submitted and elected as winner.
  • Apps must be uploaded as executable including at least two screen shots and a brief description on a yet to be named website to be take part of the election. The applications have to run on default hardware running on an official version of Maemo or MeeGo.
  • All applications, which are created and uploaded during the duration of the Competition will take part in the election.
  • For existing programs, only progress which has been made during the Competition will be considered.
  • When porting apps. only the work of porting will be considered, unless the original program comes from the same programmer and was developed or extended in this period.
  • The Competition runs from 01 April 2011 to 30 June 2011. After that the winners will be selected by the community.
  • Only users of maemo.org and meego.com who are registered for at least four months are entitled to vote.
  • There is no legal right to win.

More details regarding the election process to follow.
All new information regarding the Competition will be published first on http://meetmeego.org and shortly afterwards here.

Ready? Set, go! Grab your PC, start to hack and show us your app!

You still have questions? Contact us!
http://twitter.com/meetmeego
http://facebook.com/meetmeego
info@meetmeego.org
or here!

Thread on Talk.Maemo.Org.

Of Turkeys, Eagles, and Burning Platforms

Some time after that fateful Friday, February 11th, we can look at the  MS / Nokia deal with a better perspective.
And make better conclusions about it.
In fact, the  deranged acts of the current directors of Nokia, ultimately, make much sense.
We just did not know the whole story. And we’ll never know, of course. But with the little that came to light, we can make a better picture of the involved persons/entities .

Elop: It didn’t take long to go public that he is the seventh biggest shareholder in Microsoft. And his actions as president of Nokia are very eloquent in this regard. Doing things like the “Burning Platform Memo,” which was thought to be false, it is an insult to the entire culture of Nokia, and soon after it surfaced, the company’s stock began to fall.
As president of Nokia, he acts as a Microsoft employee, helping one company over another. This type of conflict of interest is something that deserves further scrutiny, after all, such attitudes fit perfectly as white collar crimes.

Board of Nokia shareholders: Interesting to know that several big Microsoft shareholders also have many shares of Nokia. And they chose to sacrifice Nokia now, trying to make Microsoft to thrive in the cell phone  market. The maneuver did not work, since the announcement of the deal, Nokia’s shares have fallen 25% , while Microsoft’s shares are still low. Shares of Google, on the other hand, rose by 8% when the deal was announced.

Symbian: Much is said, that the division responsible for Symbian has grown so much, both in importance and political power within Nokia, that it began to clamp the company’s ability to make decisions quickly and be agile, and obviously acted to protect itself. The deal with Microsoft would be a response to the  Symbian division, ending its days of influence within Nokia.

Nokia: Nokia as a company could not have taken a worse decision. At a time when the hardware is commoditizing, that large profits are coming from software and services, Nokia will throw away its chance of being able to control its destiny, and have influence in services (Ovistore – Maps) and AppStore, to become another Microsoft OEM manufacturer. And it will happen what happened in the market of personal computers, where the hardware was a major source of income just in the beginning, with several different brands and manufacturers. When the IBM PC became an industry standard, Microsoft was the only one to profit high with it. The rest, manufacturers, OEM’s and others,  were getting tighter and tighter margins.
And what’s worse, since the announcement of the agreement, Nokia’s shares are in free fall, and the company lost somewhere around 11 billion dollars in market value.

About Nokia expect it to become much more aggressive against manufacturers of mobile phones that use Android (patent lawsuits), since both Horacio Gutierrez(Microsoft) and Elop  said they will jointly protect intellectual property from both companies.

Steve Ballmer: This great “strategist,” Microsoft’s CEO tried this maneuver, to save his job. A very good plan, were not his competitors  Google and Apple. With this maneuver, practically, Ballmer has transformed Nokia into another subsidiary of Microsoft, for US$ 0.
And, there is nothing new. He has done the same with Yahoo, where he planted Carol Bartz, and everyone saw the result: Yahoo was the second largest firm in searches in Internet, has become nothing but an empty shell. And expect to happen with Nokia what has happened with Yahoo, closure of projects, mass layoffs, end of divisions.
Of course everything must be some secret plan from Steve Ballmer, devaluing  Nokia until he can buy it for changes.

Intel: Intel desperately needed Nokia, so it  joined forces with Nokia, creating Meego, which was part its creation (Moblin) and part Maemo (Nokia’s creation)
Intel loses badly in the mobile and embedded scenarios, always behind the ARM RISC processors,  that are much smaller, efficient in power consumption and heat dissipation without losing processing power.
In the embedded / mobile, Intel’s still pitching its Atom platform, without much success.
Now without Nokia, Intel is adrift, looking for any other manufacturer who is interested in its Meego operating system .

Qt: Qt’s staff, although very optimistic, are in a extremely delicate situation: As  Symbian was officially announced as a dying platform, the future development of Qt is threatened. In Elop’s plans, they will sell another 150 million units with Symbian in the next two years and then shut down. And what will be of Qt then? Being a very good framework, Elop would never let it out of his control, after all, it would compete with the Microsoft Windows platforms. Chances are he will do like Oracle did with OpenSolaris:  let it to die slowly, and terminated its development.
Therefore, it is urgent to fork Qt, for  the sake of KDE, and so many great programs written on Qt.

Microsoft: It was the only winner in this deal. It desperately needed any traditional manufacturer to pick up its WP7 platform,  because since its launch, interest in it was close to none. And has gotten, simply the world’s largest maker of mobile phones.
With its “employee” Elop in Nokia’s helm, Microsoft can get close to many patents in mobile telephony, and with his clumsy actions at the helm of Nokia, the company’s value tends to decrease even more.
Microsoft not only manages to get a manufacturer for its turkey mobile OS, it also can get to buy a nearly bankrupt Nokia, and quite cheap.
It is no secret that Microsoft achieved this agreement injecting money in Nokia, paid a lot of cash for Nokia  to go WP7’s way, but, even with the “advantages” for Nokia (save a lot of cash in R & D), these acts did not improve Microsoft’s stock, which loses billions in its disastrous online adventures  (Bing, Xbox Live and now WP7). But the source of Microsoft’s money  is finite, and they are now borrowing billions of dollars. Of course it is something that is not highly publicized, so the company does not have its image tarnished.

Nobody can know, however, what will happen. Maybe Nokia has success with the  Meego powered phone  it is to launch this year. Who knows, it may even draw attention back to Meego and give a new breath of life in the Nokia Meego platform. Maybe Nokia will successfully  sell the WP7 phones . Maybe Microsoft will sink so much in debt that it goes bankrupt.

Anything can happen, but, to paraphrase Vic Gundotra, Google VP for mobile technology, two turkeys do not make an eagle. And that’s what Nokia + Microsoft are today, two halves, desperately trying to make a whole.

The Nokia N900- Long Live the Device

I was pretty much excited when I bought my N900 device. I knew I had made a right choice by going for the ‘eternal’ device from Nokia, the legendary mobile phone maker. I was really looking forward to MeeGo when Nokia would finally shift to it as their primary platform in their fightback strategy. But now I am left wondering if my judgment was right.
With the new Microsoft shareholder turned CEO of  Nokia, the successor to Maemo 5, the N900 OS, that we all know as MeeGo is as good as dead. I personally felt really disappointed at the news that MeeGo was going to be used in powering devices that are meant to ‘disrupt’, whatever that means. If you ask me, I’d simply tell you Nokia made the biggest strategic blunder in their entire 143 year history. But that’s the subject of another post.
I just want to make a tribute to the N900, the best phone ever released by Nokia, and probably the last. As a mobile computer with phone capabilities built in, the device is everything a user could ever hope for. More than a device, it was a converged communication device that does what it is meant to do, with no flaws.
Take Conversations, your unified messaging box that has all your IMs and SMS. And by IM I mean on all networks, from Google Talk to Yahoo to Skype to you name it. With a threaded view, you can always see the context of your messages. Tap on a message and see every single one you’ve ever sent or received from that contact.
Then there is the Voip integration on the device. At the time of the release, it really was ahead of the it’s time. Simply enter your Skype and Google Talk credentials and you have the two Voip networks integrated into your phone calling function. Tap a contact and you automatically get an option to either call them via GSM or Skype. Never seen such tight and seamless integration. 
And then the browser. Think of your desktop browser on your palms. Page rendering on a mobile device like never before. Add the availability of Firefox mobile with support for addons and you are ahead of any single device out there in surfing the internet!
For power users, there is the terminal that makes completing tasks a matter of entering a few commands. With Debian, you have a full fledged, powerful OS running the device. I could go on and on about the N900. It’s still a device that can compete head on with most of the high end devices out there. Nokia seriously had a winner in the N900. They only needed to convince people it was not just for geeks. 
Like I said, Nokia found itself in a rut and kept on digging. Now they’ve been given a helping hand by none other than Redmond. In as much as I am disappointed about their utter smashing of MeeGo from their strategic lineup, I’m glad I still got this device. 
Though Nokia has decided to jump a strong ship that can withstand the toughest storms to one that is still struggling to make any impact, Intel has reaffirmed their continuous support for MeeGo. Also, what really gives me hope is what we commonly refer to as Community. Yes, the community hardly disappoints. Long live the Nokia N900…my last Nokia device!