Nokia: One Maemo device in 2010 is a bad idea
Barely 15 day s after i had written about Nokia’s dual OS strategy, It turns out that Maemo is not so big news from Nokia.
Nokia has gone through a rough patch over the last 18 months or so. It has lost heavily in the smartphone space to Apple, RIM and Google; and its overall numbers tumbled down in 2009. Ovi store was a lukewarm fare. However, it seemed to be making a comeback of sorts with interesting applications such as Nokia Money and Lifetools in the Mid end and Maemo devices in the smartphone segment. N900 got a great response as Nokia moved away from the Symbian platform for the first time after failure with its N97.N900 boasts some impressive specs for a smartphone-type device, and includes a touch screen, QWERTY keyboard, media playback and more. While the N900 is a bit of a niche play and doesn’t have the largest addressable market, it’s an important step for Nokia to take in regaining some much-needed momentum in the world market for smartphones. The N900 was thought to be not only the Nokia flagship, but also a learning platform for Nokia and its Maemo line up.
In this regard, Nokia’s decision to launch only one Maemo based device in 2010 is bewildering. Nokia is committed to the Symbian platform as its “smartphone platform of choice”. Symbian S60 — is outdated and clunky. Maemo looked to be a solid step in the right direction, at least from a usability standpoint.The one Maemo-device announcement was thus a let down, dashing hopes of a slew of high-end, Linux-based phones from the mobile manufacturer.The Symbian Foundation has been working hard to reboot Symbian as a platform, but so far developments has been slow, and no devices have been announced with support for the latest Symbian versions.
Either Nokia plans to take over the world with just a handset update per year like Apple does or it believes Symbian still has some life left and will continue churning out S60 and the upcoming Symbian Foundation OS based phones by the dozen. The only manufacturer for whom this “one device a year strategy” has worked very well is Apple. 2010 would be a busy smartphone year with the supposed Apple 3.1 being readied for release and Android getting mainstream. Putting a large bet on Symbian S60 can significantly risk the Nokia portfolio. There is an opinion that even one Maemo phone would be enough – if it’s an iPhone killer. To flip it around, if Nokia’s 2010 Maemo and Symbian devices return average results, they would get dangerously sidelined in the smartphone space. That would also mean being left out of the consideration space of the developer community.
Software and user experience has become the key differentiator in today’s market. We know that Nokia can design attractive and functional hardware, but it is sadly lacking in the software department. Maemo would give Nokia a good chance at fighting off its rivals if given the right support. Planning only one Maemo device for 2010 — a year in which we are sure to see a new iPhone and dozens more Android models — is a mistake
That’s a bad idea, Nokia.
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