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Cellphones Handhelds Software Linux

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

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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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 24, 2010 @05:44AM (#34002550)

    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. Want to program in Python? Good luck. 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.

  • by XDirtypunkX ( 1290358 ) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @05:59AM (#34002620)

    You might want to look into the NDK on Android. It's perfectly possible to port a runtime written in C/C++ to Android and then use that to run your python code.

  • Re:Also rans (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @06:20AM (#34002696) Journal

    They could also do what Google did and create their own Linux based operating system and maintaining compatibility in applications

    That's what MeeGo is. Unlike Android, it uses a fairly standard stack (e.g. includes X11), so porting apps from the desktop is trivial - recompile, tweak the UI a bit for the small screen, ship.

  • I can get a bash shell on my nexus one, and from there its possible to install a full standard gnu userland. The only difference with meego is that the standard userland is already there, but nothing stopping you from installing what you need on android.

    That said, why would you want to install ruby on a phone? I grudgingly have ruby installed on my relatively highend laptop, and it's an absolute pig, i would hate to have something so inefficient on a far less powerful device with a smaller battery.

  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @06:31AM (#34002736) Journal

    Ouch. I didn't think Nokia would ever muster the balls to kill off Symbian (which was clearly the only logical move after the iPhone ate its lunch, even more so after Android started making inroads).

    What? Symbian has a beautifully designed kernel, with power management at every level of the stack, able to run isolated personalities so that it can run the hard-realtime stuff for controlling the radio on the same CPU as the apps. It has a microkernel design with support for capabilities (for running semi-trusted code), and concurrency at every layer from the nanokernel up so it will scale happily on the next generation of phones with multiple cores.

    Linux, in contrast, is a pig on mobile devices. Power management is accomplished by hacks on top of hacks. Hard realtime is a joke. It's there purely for buzzword compliance.

    Unfortunately, the userland stuff for Symbian is a pain. It used to use a version of C++ for userspace development that exposed some of the very low-level memory management stuff. This was important for phones with no MMU, but is a waste of time now. It's not required (in fact, you can just use Qt), but a lot of people tend to judge Symbian by either that or by the crappy UIs that a lot of manufacturers (including Nokia) have built on top of it in the past.

  • Re:maybe (Score:4, Informative)

    by digitalchinky ( 650880 ) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @08:00AM (#34002996)

    You don't quite know the reality of privacy, Nokia, and asking. These days they don't ask. They make it compulsory. While they may not openly use the data they collect in ways that are immediately obvious, they absolutely do collect data that most would consider even more private than the stuff they hand over to google.

    One Word (okay technically two) "MyNokia" - on Symbian and Maemo handsets the OS forces you to send a text message back to Nokia the first time you turn it on - the payload - IMEI and a bunch of other handset specific information. The Maemo community reacted quite badly to this - The response from Nokia was to suck it up because everyone loves to sell their soul in return for daily text spam.

    Android already runs on the N900, a few rough edges, but it's almost good enough to use as a replacement OS.

    MeeGo - everyone forgets about Maemo - it exists right now, it is good. MeeGo is an arse about face rewrite to fit somewhere between Android and iOS. Obviously Nokia was a little bit smug and now has to play catchup for a few years. It's not like the writing wasn't on the wall though.

  • by lyml ( 1200795 ) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @08:31AM (#34003166)
    Jesus Christ not this again.

    Yes all phones lose signal strength when you cover the antenna, not all phones allow the antenna to be bridged with another antenna rendering it into a pretty crappy antenna.

    That's what the whole iphone antenna issue was about. Not signal attenuation do through holding it.

  • Re:maybe (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 24, 2010 @09:47AM (#34003574)

    This is wrong. I have an N900 and it's entirely voluntary to register with MyNokia. There is even an application available for N900 to disable/block the entire MyNokia feature. I know because I have it installed :)

  • by maestroX ( 1061960 ) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @10:03AM (#34003672)

    I'd love to see a Symbian kernel, with a UNIX-like userland and X11, but I don't think it's anywhere on the roadmap.

    It's on the map, in another region: QNX.
    Acquired by RIM recently, so expect the BlackBerries to run it in the future.
    (Unfortunately closed-source again after acquisition)

  • by ibsteve2u ( 1184603 ) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @10:14AM (#34003732)
    Some think Symbian will be around a while... []

    There are two reasons why Nokia won’t be abandoning Symbian anytime soon.

    Firstly, Symbian is tightly integrated with Nokia’s variant management process. Nokia is the only OEM that has mastered variant management, i.e. being able to generate 100s of variants (SKUs) at the press of a button. That’s how Nokia can deliver 100s of customised smartphones to operators and retailers around the world. This variant management process is ‘hardcoded’ to Symbian, which means that replacing Symbian would seriously compromise Nokia’s ability to cater to operator requirements around the world and it would seriously hurt its market share.

    Secondly, Nokia’s economies of scale rely on in-house control of core components, and the operating systems is one of them. If Nokia were to license Windows Phone it would reduce its differentiation to industrial design and Ovi alone. In the case of Android, Nokia would have to branch Android (and to sustain the cost of Android development), port Qt on Android which means another 12+ months for a stable implementation. While this remains a long-term possibility, it is still a gamble when Nokia’s priority should be to focus on killer devices and not a killer OS. Qualcomm’s BREW MP is another candidate but only when Qualcomm has a good developer platform story and that means waiting for BREW MP to launch a web-based platform akin to RIM’s WebWorks.

    Symbian may no longer be a symbiotic system, but will live within Nokia for many years to come as the workhorse under the hood of Nokia smartphones.

  • Re:maybe (Score:3, Informative)

    by Bill_the_Engineer ( 772575 ) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @10:38AM (#34003832)
    My point was competition keeps everybody in check. I not particularly happy with the wording in the parent quote.
  • Re:maybe (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 24, 2010 @11:19AM (#34004130)

    I work for NOKIA and Google is our primary competitor; not Motorola, HTC, Samsung etc.

    We are moving towards becoming an Internet services provider with smartphones playing an important role in this transition. MeeGo plays vital role in this strategy. Qt should allow seamless integration of applications in both Symbian and MeeGo; Symbian is still useful for middle-end devices, MeeGo aims to be the top dog. Qt should allow you to get the same UI experience on both platforms later.

    At this moment we are deploying distributed architecture comparable to Google's so that we can compete in latency and scalability of all our services once the initial pains are over. MeeGo should be fully integrated with this framework.

    Symbian is a nice OS with outdated GUI which shoots it down; MeeGo should be our response to UI; for that we hired WebOS UI designers to help us get there.

    If you ever tried N900 you can imagine what kind of phone would be the first MeeGo phone - you'd be able to run xterm, gcc or most Linux applications on your phone directly - I am not aware of any other phone on the market capable of doing this. Couple this with a capacitive touchscreen, multitouch, UI similar to WebOS yet with NOKIA style, fully offline 3D navigation, microSD, HDMI, hi-res cameras and many more - you can perhaps ditch your netbook and camera and carry only this phone.

  • by metamatic ( 202216 ) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @02:54PM (#34005542) Homepage Journal

    Also, programming for Android? You need Java or another language that compiles for JVM. Want to program in Python? Good luck. You can't, and you'll never can, because Jython isn't portable to Android. Want to program Ruby? Haha.

    SL4A for Android [] from Google gives you Python and Ruby right on your Android phone. Also Perl, Lua, JavaScript, Tcl and shell. In other words, you're about as wrong as it's possible to be.

  • Re:maybe (Score:2, Informative)

    by DerPflanz ( 525793 ) <bart AT friesoft DOT nl> on Sunday October 24, 2010 @03:09PM (#34005612) Homepage

    Android already runs on the N900, a few rough edges, but it's almost good enough to use as a replacement OS.

    From the Nitdroid FAQ: "Phone is working too but there is no sound yet."

    I do not know what you call 'a few rough edges', but phone support without sound is a big fat NO to me.

  • Re:yeah, right... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 24, 2010 @03:35PM (#34005794)

    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.

    There already is a Python runtime for Android. Has been for a year and a half.

  • Re:maybe (Score:3, Informative)

    by cibyr ( 898667 ) on Monday October 25, 2010 @02:32AM (#34009276) Journal

    Did you get your N900 with PR1.2 already installed, did you install the PR1.2 update via SSU or did you install it via the firmware flasher?

    When I installed PR1.2 via SSU (how most users install updates; it's essentially a nice GUI on top of APT), after the reboot up popped a modal dialog asking me to accept the MyNokia T&Cs. The *only* way to dismiss this dialog is to accept the T&Cs, at which point it sends an SMS to Nokia. Sure, you can opt-out later, but by that point Nokia already has the data...

Someday your prints will come. -- Kodak