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In the Face of Android, Why Should Nokia Stick With MeeGo? 336

Posted by timothy
from the worse-name-than-gimp dept.
GMGruman writes "In September, Symbian 3 was Nokia's latest great hope for becoming relevant in the modern smartphone market. Now comes word that the Symbian Foundation is shutting down, ending the Symbian 3 and Symbian 4 efforts. Nokia is now banking on MeeGo, a collaboration with Intel whose release date — and fit to smartphones — is highly uncertain. InfoWorld's Ted Samson thinks that it's time for Nokia to swallow its pride and stop pretending it will ship MeeGo in time to matter, and instead consider adopting Android — or even Windows Phone 7, which after all might finally support copy and paste by the time Nokia decides to hitch its mobile wagon to a new horse."
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In the Face of Android, Why Should Nokia Stick With MeeGo?

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  • Re:Why? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by niftydude (1745144) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @06:08AM (#34002646)

    But I digress: if the choice is a linux distro and Android I will buy the linux distro, so I can install every possible package I already have on my desktop/laptop.

    I completely agree with this. Also - I am hanging out for the ability to do x11 forwarding with ssh. ssh -Y -C will be THE killer app for me. I would have bought a n900 long before now just for this if the handset didn't happen to be such a large and ugly brick.

  • Re:Lots of reasons (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 24, 2010 @06:12AM (#34002670)

    It seems that even hardware vendors don't have much influence on Google for Android development. Most of them don't get the build before the rest of the world does. So it means that if you're not HTC or one of the close partner, you'll always be lagging. And even the close ones have little input into the development process.

    Nokia does not want the phone market to become like the PC market, where you have one Microsoft and lots of OEMS.

    Meego is an Open Source project done right, with open development, re-use of existing components, etc. We should support it fully.

    I expect that in some time, other major OEMs will join too and not just in the mobile phone vertical, but in other verticals too (like Bosch in the in-car vertical).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 24, 2010 @06:17AM (#34002682)

    Not cheap 'droids that can survive in those environments. And define cheap? Remember, US smartphones are heavily subsidized by carriers, which doesn't happen nearly ever in third-world markets.

    The battery life isn't 1/100th of what it needs to be (power outlets can be a week apart...Androids spend more time plugged in charging then not, which makes it hard to even call them "wireless devices").

    The devices aren't anywhere near rugged enough. Sand, water, being thrown into rucksacks.

    Android devices require support. Most of these people don't have computers...how do you patch an Android w/o a PC? Phones in these markets are bought on the street, they have to work with basically zero support from anyone, ever.

    It'll be a long, long time before something like a real smartphone will be suitable for such environments. A long, LONG time.

  • Re:Lots of reasons (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 24, 2010 @07:05AM (#34002842)

    Car vertical seems to be happening already - GENIVI chose Meego; when looking only at car manufacturers among its members [genivi.org], you have there already BMW, GM, Peugeot Citroen, Hyundai, Mitsubishi, Renault Nissan Samsung, Tata; not bad at all.

  • yeah, right... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kludge (13653) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @07:07AM (#34002846)

    Porting a python run time would be a pain in the butt. And even if it worked what libraries would it have?

    I wrote a python script on my laptop that grabs some data off the network and displays it in a GTK window for the user. I then copied that program to my N900 and it just worked. Try that on your Droid.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 24, 2010 @07:07AM (#34002850)
    Alternative interpretation of these announced changes is that Nokia is gradually closing down its Symbian product line and soon Nokia's only own smartphone OS would be MeeGo. Regarding that "one constantly evolving" Symbian platform: Yes, Symbian could be still be around and evolving, just like the Windows XP is constantly evolving with its (security) updates. Yes, outside the US Symbian is still, by far, the most popular mobile OS. But strategically Nokia focuses on gaining more success on US smartphone markets. It is doubtful if even that "constantly evolved" Symbian is enough for winning a significant market share. So, maybe the strategy is now to consider Symbian strategically dead [colordev.com] (like XP) and see if MeeGo can do better."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 24, 2010 @07:25AM (#34002902)

    Nokia suffers, no more no less, the same trouble of a big Corporate grown up too fast in a country where that business model was previously, simply enough, not present.

    What comes out is an organization model that, put in a linear way, does not understand the world around its core business. Think of M$.

    There are certainly clever individual minds in the business and clever ideas that changed the world, but that creativity must be so stifled by corporate shit to be unable to come to the surface anymore.

    Insisting with such an old style monolith like Symbian; delaying touch screens up to almost stubbornly negating their existence; letting camera and video functions and technology lag behind of the concurrence: it came to a point that both hardware and software on Nokia phones now lag behind every other big on the market, from Apple to Samsung, to Google and so on. There is enough to wonder how does Nokia still survive.

    Nokia survives through all the customers around the world, also in less developed not-western countries, who simply need one thing: make phone calls and now and then sending an SMS.

    But Nokia ought to be warned, or maybe has already miraculously realized it: that won't last for long. Even POTS operator at one time had to accept they had to differentiate on the Net as platform, that their beloved phone line could not sustain them forever.

    Will the new chief go along and get through those troubles? It depends how bureaucratized the thing has become.

    Certainly going to this MeeGo, if confirmed, that would mean: jumping off the market completely, leaving Symbian at once, letting bleeding edge Android on a side and thus giving huge advantage to Apple: it looks at first sight as a not-very-clever way to start. Some would call it visionary,instead. Will Nokia recover or bust? We'll see over a few years.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 24, 2010 @07:40AM (#34002926)

    >Android itself is developed by Google behind closed doors. But still Android itself is open. That is the reason why forks of Android like the Cyanogen mod can emerge.

    Well, MeeGo goes a step beyond and you can actually contribute code to it, you can see it being developed in open. In the end, It's all relative: iOS is less open than Android and Android is less open than MeeGo.

    And btw, you can fork MeeGo whenever you want, that's not the case with Android-when you can do a fork only if Google decides to release the code.

  • Re:maybe (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RichiH (749257) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @07:53AM (#34002978) Homepage

    > Google can ensure products follow standards better

    Pray tell me: Whose standards will those products follow once there is only one mobile OS that matters?

  • never say never (Score:3, Interesting)

    by luis_a_espinal (1810296) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @08:09AM (#34003040) Homepage

    Android is all cool and stuff, it's also FLOSS and great, and whatever.

    However, it has its shortcomings which make it less than a desirable phone operating system for me. First of all, MeeGo, Maemo and their cousins allow me to run any vanilla GNU/Linux GUI applications. They are most often inconvenient to use on a phone, but they are sometimes better than what's available on the platform. On Android I'm limited to apps written for Android. Thanks but no thanks.

    Also, programming for Android? You need Java or another language that compiles for JVM.

    Just a small (but very important) correction It's not the JVM, but the Dalvik VM. Bytecode is different, architecture is different, and Dalvik by design will not run J2ME things that can run on a JVM.

    Want to program in Python? Good luck. You can't, and you'll never can, because Jython isn't portable to Android.

    Considering that Google App's engine primary language (for a while) was Python, I doubt that Python (or a subset of it) will never be supported on Android. To run Python on a VM, you. do. not. necessarily. need. Jython. You simply need (a yet to be developed) Jython-like equivalent for the Dalvik.

    Obviously you would not get all the amenities you'll have on Python (.ie. ability to call C libraries.), but then again, you do not get all the Java amenities on Dalvik anyways. Now, the status quo is all the result of strategic considerations.

    Google App engine supports Python and Ruby (and even Scala IIRC) because the web development bestiary is that much diverse. It caters to the widest possible set of development shops, a good strategic move.

    Dalvik on the other hand started (and has remained so) with support to a subset of Java. Why? Because it caters to the masses of J2ME developers already in existence; another strategic move, and a better response to iPhone's reliance on Objective-C.

    The Oracle-Google legal wrangling might actually give Google a reason to start supporting a different programming model should it comes to that. Given its historical support for Python, it could come to that as it is not infeasible (given Google's engineering resources), nor foreign (given its history with Python.)

    There is nothing technical that prevents a subset of Python from ever running on Dalvik, ergo my objection to your position, which I quote - "You can't, and you'll never can, because Jython isn't portable to Android"

    Want to program Ruby? Haha. With non-Android distros I can write an app, run it on my desktop without any additional software installed, and then copy it to the phone as is. And it will run.

    Again, nothing prevents this from occurring. More power to you if you can write Ruby apps on non-Android distros, but you seem to be missing the point about the nature of Android and the mobile development marketplace. It locks on a Java variant because it is strategically sound to lock and focus on the masses of J2ME developers (not on virtually non-existing mobile python/ruby masses.)

    More importantly And there is nothing on Dalvik that prevents it from EVER and FOREVER running something else should market forces end up driving that need.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 24, 2010 @08:22AM (#34003108)

    Smartphone unit sales out of global mobile phone sales accounted for 10 percent in 2007, 11.4 percent in 2008, and 14.4 percent in 2009. They haven't been holding steady at 20 percent market share since 2007. That doesn't even compute with the addition of new players iPhone and Android. Do you think purchasers of those devices only cannibalized from RIM and Symbian?

    Smartphones had 18 percent year over year growth in 2008 and 25 percent in 2009 compared to an overall slight decline in total mobile phone shipments.

    In 2009, smartphone sales tallied 174 million. This year, they are projected to sell around 270 million units which would account for ~20 percent of the total mobile phone market. It's very impressive growth.

  • by sznupi (719324) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @08:34AM (#34003186) Homepage

    Don't forget to mention the projections from, IIRC, around 2007 telling how they were supposed to be at around 35% right about now. The growth is quite gradual, and like that for many years (might look slightly different from the perspective of few atypical markets which were previously mostly deprived of smartphones by carriers and fed with very locked down handsets)

    Of course, it would help if we had any sensible definition - given how SE A200 "feature phones" have even full multitasking for several years, or how latest S40 also gives a lot...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 24, 2010 @09:02AM (#34003350)
    Well, meego is based on VxWorks, and VxWorks in certified to DO-178B level A, and level "A" cert specifies that any failure may result in loss of aircraft or injuries. I see this as a A-OK for cell phone use during flight.
  • by sznupi (719324) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @09:21AM (#34003436) Homepage

    But that's again trying a bit to define what we're looking at in a way which results in a very narrow view.

    How many years do we hear "symbian is dying" while it consistently ships most units and gains most sales, in number of handsets, year after year? ("percentage of growth" might be deceiving when one player is much closer to the absolute limit of "number of all mobile phones sold" than the rest) Oh, "but they aren't used how I say they should be!"? What?...

    It won't matter much anyway when the smarthphones will settle again on some common functionality (on which "feature phones" are settling too, BTW, being used in a smart way; blurring the lines even more). Look what happened with desktop. Browser (covers games, too...), audio/video/photo management, IM, maybe some social networking app in the tray, office; people don't use custom UI for every webpage, custom UI for every radio station, custom UI for every audiobook, custom UI for every e-book - things which dominate some appstores...

    (and seriously, Symbian phones seem very locked, out of all other choices? Claims of incompatibility also seem overstated to me, in comparison; not to mention how many segments Nokia continuously covers)

  • by lxt (724570) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @10:16AM (#34003744) Journal
    It seems that Nokia has a bit of a following on /., probably because their hardware is pretty decent, and key handsets like the N900 appeal to the demographic here. But the fact is in terms of an *ecosystem*, Nokia has nothing. They are in the gutter.
    Nokia are at the point where they are actively having to pay developers to write apps. And we're not talking small apps here - big, branded apps for global companies, who are being approached by Nokia asking them if they'd like an app for Ovi. I couldn't tell you the number of clients I deal with day in day out during my day job who have already been rung up by Nokia. Even with an app developed at no cost, very few companies will take Nokia up on it.
    It is simply not a space that people want to release software into right now. It doesn't get you press, and it doesn't get you sales. At least Blackberry have realised their previous app space strategy wasn't working, and are attempting to engage with mobile developers in a meaningful way. Nokia's left there without a clue.
  • by hweimer (709734) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @12:56PM (#34004786) Homepage

    Plus the potential to run Android apps under MeeGo, probably even natively at some point.

  • by Rexdude (747457) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @01:27PM (#34004988)
    It's quite a solid piece of hardware, and Symbian^3 isn't bad either. The first firmware update later this year promises to update the built in Qt runtime to 4.7, replace the existing dog of a S60 browser with a Qt based one, and other improvements.
    And because of the way Symbian's been designed from the ground up to work with limited CPU cycles/memory, it runs exceedingly well with a 680 MHz ARM11 and a Broadcom GPU. Angry Birds has been ported to Symbian, Need for Speed Shift looks gorgeous, and HD videos play smoothly on the AMOLED display. Detractors crow over the gigahertz class CPUs on rival Android/iOS devices, but consider that Android practically REQUIRES that sort of CPU power for its eyecandy. A lower specced Android phone [allaboutsymbian.com] just doesn't cut it for speed. And while battery technology doesn't keep up with clock speed, GHz level CPUs are going to guzzle battery as well.
    My phone lasts great for 2 days with wifi permanently on and push email running for GMail/Hotmail/Yahoo, with around 2-3 hours of calls a day and moderate web browsing and youtube. It has a power saving mode as well, that reduces display brightness and other settings in one go to consume less power.

    For all the bullshit in this article, he never even talks about Nokia's Q3 financial performance [nokia.com]. They've sold 26.5 million smartphones, with an operating profit of €529 million, and net sales of €10.3 billion. Today in India, you can buy a Symbian based Nokia C5 for about INR 7000 unsubsidized (about $160). Just a couple of years ago that was unthinkable for a Symbian phone, they typically cost double or more. Nokia's pushing smartphones lower into the mass market with Symbian - they're able to standardize the hardware (600 MHz ARM CPUs as of now) and because of Symbian's scalability it can power these low end handsets. Meego will wind up for the successors to the N900 and probably be a netbook/smartphone hybrid OS, with appropriately beefy hardware and targeted at the high end market. And both Meego and Symbian will be bound by Qt for application development, so that there's no fragmentation going forward for developers. Qt is a proven toolkit, in use by Skype, Google Maps and VLC, and can be used to make desktop apps for Windows/Linux/Mac as well. And naturally everything here is true honest open source, not locked down or restricted like the 2 competing phone OSes(Android the OS being restricted by its device manufacturers even if it itself is open source). I see this as quite good - an incentive for developers to write apps that will reach the entire world, not just the US (there's 10 million downloads a day on Ovi Store as of now, it seems), while using standard development tools that can be used outside of mobile phones as well.

  • Re:maybe (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Rexdude (747457) on Monday October 25, 2010 @01:01AM (#34008900)
    MyNokia is a voluntary, free SMS service that sends you tips and tricks on using your phone. In India receiving SMS is free, so it's not like we're being forced to pay to read them. The service is enabled by default when you purchase a new phone, but you can turn it off and won't be bothered again. I bought my N8 a couple of weeks ago- when I inserted my SIM card and booted up the phone, it greeted me with my Ovi account username and asked to enter my password to enable the Ovi services on the phone. It registers the phone number and IMEI with Nokia, (who check if I've signed up for Ovi with my phone number and send back the associated username) and the next time I logged onto the Ovi website, my preferred device had automatically been set to N8 (from the N82 that I had before). After setting up my account, it was easily able to sync with Ovi services - maps, contacts and email. I have never been bothered by Nokia for marketing purposes or anything else, and there's nothing on the phone that would 'phone home' to Nokia after the first time.

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