The story behind Nokia Meltemi
Nokia has been risking an “also ran” tag in the mobile phone markets it used to dominate till about a few quarters back. It is already marginalized in the Smartphone segment and provided the WP-Nokia deal works out great, Nokia is already a thing of yesterday in smartphones. Nokia’s decision not to compete in the US markets and moving out of other hyper smartphone markets such as Japan indicate the weakness.Just as Nokia has been out-innovated in the smartphone market in recent years, the company has been slow to adapt in developing markets where share is being stripped by other big players and gray market handset vendors alike
As Nokia fights to regain its footing, the company recently abandoned Symbian and MeeGo to instead adopt Windows Phone in an effort to stabilize its declining smartphone business. But that move only addresses half of Nokia’s problem. A firm position in the big-margin smartphone market will be paramount to the vendor’s success moving forward, but the market for low-cost devices is still massive. Just as Nokia’s smartphone sales have spiraled downward in recent quarters, Nokia’s feature phone business been in sharp decline as well. Nokia took drastic measures in an effort to turn its smart device business around, and with the announcement of Meltemi, it appears as though the Finnish phone maker also has plans for its low-end phones.
Towards the later purpose, Nokia is developing a Linux-based operating system code-named “Meltemi”. The Meltemi will allow the phone maker to offer devices with smart capabilities at rock bottom prices, extending well beyond the company’s potential reach with Windows Phone in emerging markets. Meltemi will be the Linux based replacement for the Symbian S40 platform that has been workhorse at Nokia. Now with the UI and Apps taking the centre piece in Mobile OS, Symbian S40 wasnt cutting the ice. The choice of Linux is but obvious given that Linux with opensource code makes development easier and cheaper.
Phones powered by Nokia’s Meltemi operating system will not be smartphones at all, and the standings of Windows Phone with Nokia doesn’t change a bit.The new platform is on the one hand very much aligned with Nokia’s mobile phone strategy stated earlier in the year (‘connecting one billion to the internet…’), but it’s also a competitive response to the newest trend seen in the gray handsets markets in the emerging world. China vendors are producing quasi-smartphones, another potentially unmet demand segment at significantly low prices based on the MTK chipsets.
Meltemi will come into play, providing a smartphone lookalike that will essentially be a feature phone to address the demand for these phones in the emerging world and, Nokia hopes, preempt competition from the gray market vendors as well as their main nemesis in this segment – Samsung.
Nokia-WP partnership and the upcoming Nokia-WP Mango smartphones have been hogging the limelight ever since the “burning platform” declaration by Stephen Elop. Windows Phone is only part of the puzzle Nokia is now in the process of piecing together, and its upcoming proprietary OS will play an equally important role in helping Nokia re-establish its position as a global leader.