Rohit Mishra

Thoughts which don’t fit in 140 characters.

Nokia N9 Is a Great and Confusing Product

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Nokia has finally made a successor for the N900 - its first Maemo device, the N9. It seems to be a great device and although it runs in dated hardware, the new Meego interface called “Swipe” seems good. This is also the first device which doesn’t has a button. N9 is not like Nokia’s other phones. It has some character.

[caption id=“attachment_124” align=“aligncenter” width=“610” caption=“Nokia N9”]Nokia N9[/caption]

The N900 was a popular device among developers and many ardent linux fans pinned their hopes on Maemo to take linux mainstream. Somehow Nokia fumbled on Maemo and then collaborated with Intel, which was running its own Mobile Linux project called Moblin. Maemo and Moblin code-bases were merged to form Meego. To many’s surprise though, Meego is no longer a main-stream project. Nokia’s new CEO Stephen Elop has taken the company in the direction of Microsoft and Nokia will be a ‘special among equals’ hardware manufacturer of Windows Phone 7. Maego has been relegated as a research platform.

In  this context, the N9 is confusing.

a) Because it runs on a Texas Instruments processor based on an ARM A8 chip - the precise reason why Intel conjured up the Moblin and Maego projects is to push its processors on mobile phones. That is not happening here. So what is Intel’s role in Maego then? Maybe they are not as interested after having found love from Cupertino.

b) Why does a company dump a platform like Maemo for another platform like Windows Phone 7 when both are unproven in market. Maybe Nokia believed that sustaining OS development on Meego and competing with iOS, Android, RIM and Microsoft was not a viable option for them. Anyone who has seen the N9 must think that Meego needs more respect than a research project for future user interfaces.

c) Samsung, who recently surpassed Nokia as the world’s largest smart-phone manufacturer doesn’t has its eggs in one basket. They have a huge number of models available both for Android and Windows Phone. Apart from that, they have their own OS called Bada which has generated decent sales numbers. Why couldn’t Nokia go for a dual-OS strategy and shift Symbian out faster and use Meego in its place. They can keep using the S40 on its feature phones.

For the sake of Nokia, I hope they are onto something. N9 shows that Nokia can come up with a fresh and attractive UI - till now, their biggest weak-point. If they build up from the mostly positive press that N9 has garnered, they will finally have a good and competitive OS of their own.