Some Companies Never Learn: Nokia Creates Yet Another Mobile Linux OS!

by Gaurav Kheterpal on October 3, 2011

If you do it once, it’s a mistake. If you do it twice, it’s not a mistake anymore. If you keep doing the wrong things, it becomes a habit.

Unfortunately, some companies never learn and Nokia is a case in point. You don’t need to go too far to realize that the dual smartphone OS strategy is a recipe for disaster. Nokia tried it with Symbian and MeeGo while Samsung experimented with Android and Bada together. The consequences are there to be seen.

Symbian continues to receive the step son treatment from Nokia. Intel sealed MeeGo’s fate last week. Samsung turned Bada into an open source multiplatform OS to reduce its dependence on Android but the former has practically zero market presence in most of the world.

On one hand, Nokia has been drumming up enthusiasm for WP7. And therefore, it would be logical to assume that Nokia would support WinPho7 with all its might – right? Wrong! A recent WSJ report suggests Nokia is set to create a new Linux-based mobile operating system called “Meltemi” to leverage on its dominant position in the low-end segment to boost shares in developing markets.

To put things in perspective, Meltemi would be the fourth OS Nokia has tried in the last one year after Symbian, MeeGo and the much-publicized Windows Phone 7 platform. It’s widely believed that the Finnish giant has given up its ambition to develop a high-end operating system and is planning to focus on what it does best – develop a low-cost mobile platform for economical smartphones. Of course, at this point of time, Nokia pursuing Meltemi is mere speculation and the company has declined to comment on its future products and technologies.

On another note, there’s tremendous pressure on Nokia to launch its first WP7 device sooner than later to cash in on the early mover advantage. In fact, Nokia has been pipped on WP7 device launch first by HTC and now by Samsung, both of which will get Mango handsets to market before their ailing rival. Perhaps, Nokia realizes that it needs to consolidate its market share at the low end and WP7 may not be the perfect answer to that tricky question.

Either way, if Nokia decides to pursue Meltemi, it would be a dramatic U-turn to its earlier stand of pushing WP7 into that affordable smartphone space, especially after the recent announcement of Tango variant for low end hardware. It is widely believed that Meltemi would be a bare bones OS with a simple user interface and working with low end hardware and connectivity.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big-time Linux fan and I wholeheartedly support the open source software movement. However, I’m deeply saddened with how smartphone manufacturers have openly abused the FOSS movement to suit their needs. Questions continue to be asked over Android’s openness. MeeGo ranks among the most high-profile open source disasters. And to be honest, I don’t have much expectations of Tizen – Intel’s latest attempt to encourage the entire Linux community to redouble its efforts to compete against Android and other market mainstays.

In the past, Nokia has taken several decisions that defy conventional logic. Is there another one coming? I hope that’s not the case.

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Written by: Gaurav Kheterpal. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.comby: RSS,TwitterFacebook, or YouTube.

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Maarten October 3, 2011 at 7:11 am

It is all about the low-end of the market, these mobile OS’. With the high-end market being flooded with iOS and Android-devices in the US and Western Europe, emerging markets still rely on Symbian or homegrown OS. Since China as well as India are home to over 2 billion potential mobile users, it is worth going after them. After all, MeeGo has had support from large Asian companies. I expect both Meltemi en Tizen will fly there, but it will take some time.

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