Nokia avoided any mention of the new operating system MeeGo at the Finnish mobile maker’s Nokia World conference.
Despite recent management turmoil Nokia’s annual conference was the most popular yet with over 3,000 attendees ranging from analysts and journalists to application developers keen to hear more about planned updates to development tools.
While upstart Taiwanese rival HTC held an alternative event at which it launched two new genuinely desirable high end Android handsets, Nokia rolled out the expected N8 based on the aging Symbian^3 operating system.
While the N8 has been called an improvement, so far there’s no US carrier deal and with a high price tag of a high end smartphone, Nokia watchers were expecting more from the company that has admitted it needs to do better against Apple and Android.
Industry watcher John Gruber wrote on his Daring Fireball blog that the immediate challenge for incoming CEO Stephen Elop is that the firm settles on the next generation of software platform quickly.
In the time that has elapsed since the iPhone turned the smartphone industry on its head, Microsoft managed to engineer a completely new mobile OS with Windows Phone 7 which was recently sent to manufacturing with handsets to arrive this year.
Yet Nokia Nokia has so far revealed nothing of MeeGo other than reiterating to journalists at Nokia World that the Intel co-developed OS was still "critically important." The N8 is a well designed smartphone as one would expect but it’s already been called sluggish and old fashioned compared to offerings from Nokia’s arch rivals.
Gruber quoted a former Nokia software engineer which described a hardware-dominated design team at Nokia, going so far as to internally predict the failure of the iPhone. "Nokia is a hardware company that hates software," said the former Nokia engineer.
Gruber summed up Nokia’s options by saying: "Symbian is crufty and has no legs. MeeGo isn’t ready, and has the whiff of vaporware. But going with Android or Windows Phone 7 reduces Nokia to the role of a commodity OEM."
"Nokia needs a platform that makes people want to buy a ‘Nokia phone’, not an ‘Android phone’ or ‘Windows phone’. It’s not that hardware isn’t important. But everything starts with the software platform."
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