Nokia MeeGo Device to Ship in 2011, Amidst Layoffs

Nokia will ship its first MeeGo-based device in 2011, the company announced yesterday, betting on the Linux platform's ability to compete against high-end rivals such as the Apple iOS and Google Android.

No details were given, but in June a company spokesman said it was ditching Symbian for MeeGo on its next N-series smartphone, the N9.

The open-source MeeGo OS combines Nokia's Linux Maemo software with Intel's Linux Moblin platform. It was first announced at this year's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Intel said in May that a MeeGo-based device would be ready by Christmas 2010, but has apparently been pushed back. Perhaps delaying the roll out was the departure of Ari Jaaksi, former head of Nokia's MeeGo unit, who left Nokia earlier this month for Hewlett-Packard.

Although Nokia's legacy Symbian OS dominates the global market by sheer volume (and 40 percent market share), Gartner recently estimated that by 2014, the Android's current 4 percent market share will surge to nearly match Symbian's projected share of 30 percent. Earlier this year phonemakers Sony-Ericsson and Samsung abandoned Symbian for Android.

In his first earnings call as president and chief executive of Nokia, Stephen Elop said Nokia will focus on its "unpolished gem," Qt (pronounced "cute"), a development framework which unifies Symbian and MeeGo and lets developers create content for both operating systems.

"We have clarified our intent to focus on Qt for Native Application Development and HTML5 for browser-based development as key tenets of our application strategy," Elop said.

During the Q&A Elop explained the strategy shift: "The reason that that is so important is there is a significant efficiency opportunity by having a single platform adopted, not only for our developers, so it's great news for our developers, but also for internal efficiencies as well."

As part of this streamlining process, yesterday Nokia also announced plans to cut 1,800 employees worldwide.

"The announcement today is the result of careful evaluation and planning; the plans have now been reviewed and endorsed by the new management. The aim is to accelerate the company's transformation towards a leading mobile solutions provider, and to do this we are simplifying and integrating operations within our product creation and corporate functions," Juha Äkräs, executive vice president of Nokia human resources, said in a statement.

In yesterday's call Elop said he had identified internal inefficiencies that were slowing down Nokia's time to market. "A number of job cuts are related to streamlining particularly around the Symbian platform," he said.

Earlier this week, Symbian Foundation chief Lee Williams quit unexpectedly for "personal reasons."[source]


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