Commentary
11/30/2009
03:05 PM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
Commentary

Nokia Slows Maemo Investment To Just One Device?

Today, citing people familiar with Nokia's 2010 product roadmap, Reuters is reporting that Nokia will release just one new device in 2010 running its Linux-based Maemo platform. That's a bad idea, Nokia.



Today, citing people familiar with Nokia's 2010 product roadmap, Reuters is reporting that Nokia will release just one new device in 2010 running its Linux-based Maemo platform. That's a bad idea, Nokia.Reuters' source claims there is only one Maemo-based device headed to the market in the year 2010. Nokia released its first, more mass-market minded N900 Maemo device a few weeks ago. The 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. Over the course of the last two and a half years, Nokia has lost market share to rivals Apple, RIM and Google (via Android). Nokia still beats everyone else in total sales volume, but its go-to smartphone platform -- Symbian S60 -- is outdated and clunky. Maemo looked to be a solid step in the right direction, at least from a usability standpoint.

That's why this news of Nokia's plans -- or lack thereof -- for Maemo devices in 2010 is so troubling. Maemo is a powerful and capable platform with Linux backing it up. 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. This hasn't stopped Nokia from standing by its die-hard OS.

"We remain firmly committed to Symbian as our smartphone platform of choice," said a Nokia spokesman, noting that Nokia does not comment on future product plans.

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.

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