By Chris Buerger
As an owner of the original Maemo-based N770, today is a sad day. Earlier, Nokia announced it would make Windows Phone 7 Nokia’s primary mobile platform, not MeeGo. This puts the brakes on what many considered a bold corporate initiative to bring Linux to a new class of Nokia mobile devices. Well before the iPad, well before the undoubtedly innovative yet largely undifferentiated avalanche of Android based devices, there was a dream, a vision to create unique Linux software for a new class of Nokia devices.
There are plenty of opinions that this announcement marks the end of MeeGo. Personally, I do not subscribe to that view. MeeGo, and the open source projects that are part of it, has a place in open source mobile Linux, and in many cases will continue to evolve and thrive. Of course, Android and iOS today, and in prior years BREW and J2ME, have proven the virtuous circle of linking the success of proliferating a mobile software stack with the number and volume of devices that ship with it. Sure, Nokia’s decision to reduce the number of MeeGo devices will have a negative impact on the proliferation of MeeGo in mobile phones. Let’s get over it and consider a few things.
MeeGo is a ‘distribution’ that is made of many leading-edge open source projects and libraries such as oFono and ConnMan , which will continue to be mission-critical components to realize Linux projects for netbook, tablet and automotive projects. MeeGo also continues to be a viable choice for device manufacturers looking to enter a competitive mobile market providing a clearly differentiated experience. QT is way too entrenched in too many markets to disappear. And as we have seen with smartphones and tablets, virtuous enablement circles increasingly spill over from one device category to another – giving a whole new meaning to the concept of expanding into adjacent markets within the mobile space.
With all of this promise, today is not the day to only say that MeeGo stakeholders will not ‘blink’ in the face of adversity. Being able to blink or not makes no difference when one’s head is in the sand.
Today is the day to seize the opportunity and lay out a new agenda for MeeGo. An agenda that is focused on efficiently executing small, innovation-driven tasks, not sponsoring bloated engineering programs. An agenda that is relentlessly market driven. An agenda that incorporates the requirements from the operator community as the baseline for all smartphone activity, while at the same time forces them to invest and participate in realizing their stated service differentiation objectives (in a way the LiMo Foundation was never able to do). We need to rethink the approach and priority of quality assurance and compliance for MeeGo along distinct device-specific profiles so that rapid enablement can move from being a PowerPoint objective to reality. We need to work out clear views what is really required to ship devices into the market in 2011, even if some features are missing. That’s what FOTA is for. We need to stop trying to be best in class in everything – let’s learn from Android and Apple to focus on what matters.
Quite simply, today is the day to move beyond ‘burning platforms’ and set a new agenda for MeeGo 2.0.