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.
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.
Looks like the venerable Nokia N900 phone should not be written off just yet. It’s now being used as a portable brain scanner.
Arek Stopczynski from Technical University of Denmark talks us through this innovative breakthrough product that works by connecting a commercially available wireless 14-channel EEG headset to a Nokia N900 smartphone.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
It features all the usual Twitter features;
- A home feed
- Direct messages
- Searches among others.
You can also use it an RSS reader and directly share items through Twitter. Tweed Suit uses column layout that works well for desktop, tablet or handheld devices and is currently available in Extras Testing on the N900.
“We are very pleased to have Apple join the growing number of Nokia licensees. [T]his settlement demonstrates Nokia’s industry leading patent portfolio and enables us to focus on further licensing opportunities in the mobile communications market.” Stevem Elop, Nokia CEO
This ruling comes after an epic battle in European and American courts between the two handset rivals, with Apple to a large extent, being the strategic cause of Nokia’s woes following the introduction of the iPhone.
As Florian Mueller said on his blog, “other companies that Nokia will ask to pay royalties will have to think very hard whether to pay or pick a fight.” The amount of settlement is rumored to be in the millions of Dollars.
It’s also not clear how this ruling is going to impact on Android handset manufacturers like HTC and Samsung, with Apple equally embroiled in a court battle over IP infringement claims. For now however, the scoreline is Nokia 1- Apple 0. Nokia fans can rejoice. Below is a map of the patents in question
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.
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.