Nokia N-Series Phones Shifting From Symbian to MeeGo

Nokia has confirmed that it plans to use the Linux-based MeeGo operating system, a joint effort between it and Intel, instead of Symbian for its N-series of smartphones. The upcoming Symbian^3-based N8 will be the last Symbian handset in the N-series.

MeeGo is an open source project formed when Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) and Nokia announced plans in February to merge their respective Linux mobile operating systems, Moblin and Maemo, to create a single, unified Linux platform. The project is hosted by the Linux Foundation.

At the time, the move was seen as benefiting Nokia more, since Symbian, an early pioneer in the smartphone market, was now being flattened by Android and iOS on the Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone. With the old OS only getting harder to maintain, Nokia decided the best thing to do was shift to a new OS -- at least for some phones.

"We absolutely remain committed to Symbian for our smartphone development. Symbian enables us to bring smartphones to more and more people around the world and ensures scale for our solutions and services, as well as for developers. MeeGo, running our high performance devices, will deliver a wealth of Internet, computing and consumer communication experiences with deep Ovi Service integration. We look forward to delivering these exciting solutions going forward," wrote Laurie Armstrong, a spokesperson for Nokia North America, in an e-mail to InternetNews.com.

Nokia will use MeeGo, which just reached the 1.0 stage, for its flagship N-series devices but will continue using Symbian on its mass-market handsets. To support both platforms, Nokia will rely on its Qt development toolkit to help developers write for both MeeGo and Symbian from one code base. Qt is an open source programming framework that Nokia acquired via its acquisition of Trolltech.

Qt supports a number of platforms, including Windows, Linux, Symbian, and MeeGo. Since it's already on Linux, there's no reason it could not support Android as well.

And it should, argues Jack Gold, president of J.Gold Associates, a mobile market research firm.

"I would hope they would do that because then people could develop for any OS and that would be a real strength. I wouldn't be surprised to see Qt support everything except Apple since Apple won't let them," he told InternetNews.com.

Gold said Nokia had no choice but to move away from Symbian and he thinks the company should dump the aging OS entirely, just like former Symbian licensees Sony Ericsson and Motorola have done. "Symbian, frankly, is not going to cut it at the high end. It's probably not going to win at the mid-range smartphone market, either. I think Nokia would be best served to say 'Symbian is OK, but we're going to put it in legacy mode and go with MeeGo across the board,'" he said.

Andy Patrizio is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.


Nokia, Symbian, MeeGo