Following the disappointment of MeeGo’s no show at this year’s Nokia World, the troubled mobile maker said it was still planning on unleashing a new phone packing the software this year. But, after yesterday’s resignation of MeeGo’s chief, Ari Jaaksi, Nokia released a statement to uber-blog Engadget saying there would be an “update on MeeGo” in 2010.
Now, there’s plenty to pick over here. But those three words immediately set alarm bells ringing about MeeGo.
“Update on MeeGo,” doesn’t suggest there’s a new phone with the slick OS on board just waiting to bust out before December 31st. In fact, it sounds more like Nokia will confirm that a phone with MeeGo will not be unveiled until next year.
Let’s be clear. Even if Nokia had announced a MeeGo phone this side of January, it wouldn’t be out until 2011. Espoo’s predilection for early announcements and epic lead times is well known, as the latest N8 delay and the plan to release the ace E7 next year attest.
But not showing off a final device this year is a huge worry. Yes, it’s vital Nokia gets it right before releasing it. But Nokia announced MeeGo at the same time and place as Microsoft unveiled Windows Phone 7. The latter is set to launch officially on Monday, October 11th. Chuck in a pre-Christmas launch of Android 3.0 and the arrival of iOS 4.2 in November, and things are starting to look seriously bad for MeeGo.
Jaaksi’s departure is perhaps the most concerning of all the recent resignations from Nokia, largely because its future smartphone business is so centred on MeeGo. Nokia might argue otherwise, but Symbian is close to being finished as a viable rival to the very best smartphone operating systems - a fact that will be reinforced by other launches and updates in the coming months.
It will survive on cheaper phones. But as people demand more from their smartphones, MeeGo needs to succeed if Nokia is to maintain its position in developing both the hardware and software for its best phones. So, if MeeGo doesn’t drop in 2010, when could it, and should it, make an appearance?
Breaking into the US market is key, so showing a phone with the operating system on board at January’s CES would be bold and show Nokia wants to succeed in the US. That way it could go right up against a potential webOS launch from Palm too.
But if there’s nothing doing come Mobile World Congress in February, it could be curtains for MeeGo. In which case, Nokia may well need to start up weighing up its OEM options. Could a Nokia Android phone ever make an appearance? Stranger things have happened.