N9, the latest smartphone from Nokia, which was launched in Singapore by its chief executive officer, is largely seen as the first and last smartphone that will run MeeGo.
MeeGo operating system was launched in February 2010 but today it stands almost dumped by the company in favour of Windows Phone 7.
So an obvious dilemma that arises is whether one should go for Nokia N9 or not.
The company was never clear in its support for MeeGo. Recently, it promised support for MeeGo for years.
But the famous burning platform memo from Nokia’s chief executive officer Stephen Elop effectively made it clear to users that he did not think very highly of Nokia’s own platform.
Obviously, users have a perception that Nokia is more excited about the Windows Phone 7 platform.
The first Windows Phone 7 device from Nokia is likely to be launched later this year, which is not very far. The closeness between the launch of N9, a MeeGo device, and WP7 devices from Nokia makes them compete with each other and might tempt a few potential buyers of N9 to wait some more time for a newer Nokia device.
Nokia N9 comes armed with a large touchscreen, no buttons, and is available in three colours: magenta, cyan and black.
The N9 offers a new user experience, very different from current Nokia smartphones. It is a pure touch smartphone which has no home button or keypad in front, though there are some physical controls on the right side. For most functions Nokia depends on its users making swipe gestures or tapping the screen, which is normal for other smartphone users but new for Nokia users.
However, the positive experience is very difficult to miss simply because the phone is so easy to use — the main reason why iPhone and iPad succeeded. The basic MeeGo experience for users concentrates on making things simpler, which is a great idea.
Facebook and Twitter clients are embedded in its operating system, and most apps are available on the home screen itself.
After using it for some time, it becomes clear the device is targeted at style conscious users, and not at serious geeks. Those who want numerous third party apps, for instance, will not want this device. Sadly, that’s the trend currently and Nokia N9 misses out on it.
The other problem is, often Nokia needs to come out with clarifications that it will support MeeGo forever. This should have been clear anyway, and Nokia wouldn’t be asked to clarify its position time and again. If only Nokia could make up its mind like Samsung, and decided to support two operating systems, the situation would have been clearer.
Nokia N9 runs on an ARM A8 chip, but MeeGo was being developed by both Nokia and Intel. By that logic, N9 should have been running on an Intel chip. We don’t know how deeply Intel has been involved with the platform before it pulled out of the partnership. Intel apparently still hasn’t given up on MeeGo though.
For more than a decade Nokia was the undisputed king of the handset market, but its market share has been declining rapidly with the arrival of Apple’s iPhone and Android powered handsets.
Nokia has a big opportunity with the arrival of N9, which shows that the company has the potential to come up with something fresh and innovative in the smartphone segment, and that it can build an attractive user interface, which was not its strong point earlier. Now, it’s up to Nokia to seize this opportunity.