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Nokia: One Maemo device in 2010 is a bad idea

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on December 4, 2009

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 Symbian S60 — is outdated and clunky.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.

Maemo and Symbian: Nokia’s Dual OS strategy

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on November 20, 2009

The Nokia N900 finally sees the light of the day. The N 900 is a device on which Nokia’s high end fortunes will depend upon. However, the Nokia N900 tablet is also a “first ever” in terms of high end device not sporting the Symbian S60 platform. The Maemo 5 OS powers the N900. The N900 sports a 5MP camera and a 32 GB memory and a flash web browser and is priced at $649. The S60 5th edition OS (as used on the N97 and N97 mini) might be mature, but it’s pretty damn woeful. Nokia’s much-hyped 5800 and N97 showed that Symbian is now ill-suited to running a sophisticated, modern and easy-to-use multimedia phone, and so now, maybe Maemo lights the way. Maemo 5 (used by the N900) definitely has a better user experience, and though it’s not perfect either, it’s definitely headed in the right direction. Nokia seems to be finally dipping its toe in to the water of an entirely new firmware future.

Rumors suggest that Nokia will drop Symbian from the entire ‘top end’ N-Series range of handsets in favour of Maemo by 2012. Nokia has products on both platforms, with the Nokia N900 (Maemo), Nokia X6 and the Nokia N97 mini (Symbian). Going forward, Nokia seems to be planning all N Series (Mobile Internet devices) on the Maemo platform and the other phones series (XpressMusic and Enterprise series) in the Symbian platform. What’s more likely is Nokia adds more Maemo-powered handsets like the N900, which it’s called a “tablet”, to an extended top-tier Nseries lineup, while retaining Symbian S60 for its mid-range multimedia smartphones and S40 for basic candybars and emerging-market devices.

Nokia must now hope the Symbian Foundation can get developers to innovate around a somewhat open-sourced OS sufficiently to reinvent the software from its base. But it has to keep an option on Maemo as it waits for the incumbent to catch up.

In the mean time, none of the US carriers have picked up the N900. An unsubsidized N900 @ $649 will be make it very difficult for Nokia to convince its consumers to pick up. Nokia can ill afford N97’s fiasco repeated again. Historically, it dosnot have a great record in securing a competent eco-system, a decent OS and also operators to support its devices. Nokia is atleast trying to change the OS aspect of the equation with Maemo.

Nokia’s N900: Emerging flagship device

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on September 1, 2009

The right partnership nets it right for Nokia at the first go: Nokia N900!

Symbian still has 45% of the smartphone market share in the world and yet as an Mobile OS platform it is mostly ante-diluvian and uncharismatic, which explains Nokia’s move into other open source platforms (read Linux) and partnerships (read Windows). This strategy to de-risk seems to have already got some attention of the media, tech enthusiasts and device geeks who by now had gotten to the habit of talking iPhone, Blackberry,Android and Palm.  

Nokia marked the next phase in the evolution of Maemo software with the new Nokia N900. Taking its cues from the world of desktop computing, the open source, Linux-based Maemo software delivers a PC-like experience on a handset-sized device.

Heres an AV from YouTube demonstrating the Maemo experience.

The Nokia N900 has evolved from Nokia’s previous generation of Internet Tablets and broadens the choice for technology enthusiasts who appreciate the ability to multitask and browse the internet like they would on their desktop computer.

Running on the new Maemo 5 software, the Nokia N900 empowers users to have dozens of application windows open and running simultaneously while taking full advantage of the cellular features, touch screen and QWERTY keyboard.

Nokia N 900

“With Linux software, Mozilla-based browser technology and now also with cellular connectivity, the Nokia N900 delivers a powerful mobile experience,” says Anssi Vanjoki, Executive Vice President, Markets, Nokia. “The Nokia N900 shows where we are going with Maemo and we’ll continue to work with the community to push the software forward. What we have with Maemo is something that is fusing the power of the computer, the internet and the mobile phone, and it is great to see that it is evolving in exciting ways.” Nokia had always spoken about Convergence and designed its product around this theme. Now it seems to be getting its user experience around this theme right.

Designed for computer-grade performance in a compact size, Maemo complements Nokia’s other software platforms, such as Symbian, which powers Nokia’s smartphones. Going forward the Maemo may become the high end platform for Nokia because for its superior abilities and Symbian would deal with the mid and low range phones.

“Just as Nokia continues to expand and diversify its device portfolio, so it is deploying multiple platforms to allow it to serve different purposes and address different markets. While we have seen continued growth in Symbian as a smartphone platform, Maemo enables Nokia to deliver new mobile computing experiences based on open-source technology that has strong ties with desktop platforms,” says Jonathan Arber, Senior Research Analyst in Consumer Mobile at IDC.

More multitasking with Maemo

Nokia Tablet
The Nokia N900 packs a powerful ARM Cortex-A8 processor, up to 1GB of application memory and OpenGL ES 2.0 graphics acceleration. The result is PC-like multitasking, allowing many applications to run simultaneously. Switching between applications is simple, as all running content is constantly available through the dashboard. The panoramic homescreen can be fully personalized with favorite shortcuts, widgets and applications.

To make web browsing more enjoyable, the Nokia N900 features a high-resolution WVGA touch screen and fast internet connectivity with 10/2 HSPA and WLAN. Thanks to the browser powered by Mozilla technology, websites look the way they would on any computer. Online videos and interactive applications are vivid with full Adobe Flash(TM) 9.4 support. Maemo software updates happen automatically over the internet.

Messaging on the N900 is easy and convenient thanks to the full physical slide-out QWERTY keyboard. Setting up email happens with only a few touches and the Nokia Messaging service mobilizes up to 10 personal email accounts. Text message or IM exchanges with friends are shown in one view and all conversations are organized as separate windows.

The Nokia N900 has 32GB of storage, which is expandable up to 48GB via a microSD card. For photography, the Maemo software and the N900 come with a new tag cloud user interface that will help users get the most out of the 5MP camera and Carl Zeiss optics.

The Nokia N900 will be available in select markets from October 2009 with an estimated retail price of EUR 500 excluding sales taxes and subsidies. While the device looks great, it will also be the apps, customer experience and software that will decide the acceptability of the device. Nokia has failed with the N97. Maemo may just be the shot in its arm to get better with the N 900.

The N900 will have a good opening but going forward where would Apple fit in with the iTablet. Only time will tell. Watch this space.

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Intel and Nokia join hands for Linux based netbooks

Posted in Industry updates, Mobile Devices and Company Updates, The Technology Ecosystem by Manas Ganguly on June 24, 2009

Nokia, Intel explore the Open source route for developing the netbook. While this is a step in future for the likes of Nokia and Intel and an extension of their platforms from a new device perspective; it is also significant in terms of development of a third camp apart from Apple and Microsoft. It also holds a lot of promise in terms of benefits from open source. Reproducing the first reactions:,39029450,49302736,00.htm

Intel and Nokia have announced a long-term relationship that will see the development of Intel-powered, Linux-based handheld mobile-computing devices.

The partnership between the chipmaker and handset manufacturer was announced on Tuesday, 23rd June 2009. Under the deal, the companies will collaborate on several open-source mobile Linux software projects, and Intel will license HSPA/3G modem intellectual property from Nokia.

“This Intel and Nokia collaboration unites and focuses many of the brightest computing and communications minds in the world, and will ultimately deliver open and standards-based technologies, which history shows drive rapid innovation, adoption and consumer choice,” Anand Chandrasekher, the general manager of Intel’s Ultra Mobility Group, said in a statement.

The partners will cooperate on developing common technologies for Intel’s Moblin and Nokia’s Maemo, which are both Linux-based operating systems. Moblin is currently under development for use in netbooks, mobile internet devices (MIDs) and other devices, and Maemo is the operating system that Nokia has used for its N800-series MIDs.

In September, Nokia said the next version of Maemo will incorporate 3G technology for the first time. Until now, devices such as the N810 have relied on Wi-Fi for their data connectivity.

“Enabling common technologies across the Moblin and Maemo software environments will help foster the development of compatible applications for these devices — building on the huge number of off-the-shelf PC compatible applications,” the companies said in their statement. “The open-source projects will be governed using the best practices of the open-source development model.”

The companies also said they will use open-source technologies from Mozilla, oFono, ConnMan, X.Org, BlueZ, D-Bus, Tracker, GStreamer and PulseAudio.

Nokia’s handsets are all based on ARM-based chip architecture, which has become a key rival to Intel’s x86-based architecture. ARM has dominated the mobile phone market, and the x86 is the basis of most desktop computing, but both are now targeting the netbook market.

In a conference call on Tuesday, Chandrasekher said Intel’s deal with Nokia aims to “work this [x86-based] family of architecture into future mobile devices”, but he declined to specify what kinds of devices were being planned, or when they might appear.

Kai Öistämö, Nokia’s device chief, also said in the call that ARM-based architecture “continues to be an important part of Nokia’s future”.

Telecoms analyst Dean Bubley, of Disruptive Analysis, said on Tuesday that the deal suggests Nokia is not confident that its Symbian mobile phone platform — currently in the process of being open-sourced — will “scale to non-phone devices”.

“There is clearly a concerted effort by lots of people, whether it’s in the Android or non-Android Linux community, to have a go at Microsoft and Apple’s incumbency in notebooks,” Bubley said. “The first round of Linux-powered netbooks did not get acceptance in the mass market — average punters preferred XP because they knew how to use it. There is a vision that a Linux-based platform can change that, but I’m really not sure.”

Intel is a prime backer of WiMax, a long-range wireless technology that is a rival to 3G. Bubley hypothesised that, in those markets where WiMax becomes popular, many users will still need 3G as a back-up, due to patchy WiMax coverage and the need to roam into non-WiMax-covered areas.

“Intel could want to create dual-standard products that use both WiMax and 3G,” Bubley suggested.;jsessionid=KTNYFU0QUAWKKQSNDLPCKH0CJUNN2JVN?cid=ChannelWebBreakingNews

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