Jun. 22nd, 2011

Yesterday Nokia announced their first MeeGo smartphone, the N9. It may well be the last, too, but I'll leave that to one side for a moment.

Hardware-wise there's a lot to like. It's a unibody polycarbonate unit with 3.9" AMOLED display using Nokia's ClearBlack whatsit and a Gorilla Glass front. The radio looks very nice, one of the few penta-band UMTS devices out there (it'll do 3G on 850, 900, 1700, 1900, and 2100). The CPU is reasonable, an ARM A8 at 1GHz, and the GPU is a PowerVR SGX530. It has plenty of memory (1GB of RAM, 16 or 64GB of storage).

Stick a shutter button on it and add a couple of soft-keys on the front at the bottom, and it's pretty much all set to be a Windows Phone 7 unit. So even if you think MeeGo is a complete dead end, the device itself isn't necessarily a waste of their time.

There are a couple of videos demoing the MeeGo interface, and they look pretty slick. What they don't show is the email or messaging applications, or the soft keyboard. Which seems like quite an omission.

There's got to be stuff missing from MeeGo. If it were really feature-complete now, the announced move to WP7 would be completely crazy. Whether you like their decision or not it's unlikely that it was taken lightly.

Given that the hardware work is likely applicable to the longer-term WP7 strategy, leaving this going on the back-burner is not a particularly bad idea for Nokia. It's likely only eating a small proportion of their R&D budget -- bear in mind that Nokia spends a lot on R&D, so even a small slice is still Real Money -- so there's no great harm in letting it roll along. Then if the WP7 gamble doesn't pay off, well, they've got a platform all ready to go.

I doubt I'll be buying one, but the hardware bodes well for the eventual WP7 devices, and the software does look interesting. I'd happily give one a go if I wasn't paying...

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