How the rot set in for Meego over a pint of Guinness

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On Friday Nokia has its Capital Markets Day where it is rumoured to be making a big announcement about its future direction (Update: They did it). Or it could happen at Mobile World Congress, starting Sunday. At any rate. The “burning platform” memo will now go down in history as a momentous event. Nokia has been forced, by the stupendous growth of Apple iOS and Android, to consider dumping Symbian, going with Windows Phone or trying to make Meego work. But it would appear that Meego is now dead in the water, with Nokia’s own CEO admitting that only one device will come out this year. It is an appalling situation to be in.

But the rot seems to have set in late last year. Then, during a cold November’s conference in Dublin, Nokia assembled several hundred developers to chew over the Meego platform, for the first MeeGo Summit.

During keynote speeches, developer meetings and talks, the delegates poured over the only N900 Meego device and networked in the evening. Indeed, they did a lot of networking: football, drinking in bars and… a lot more drinking. In fact, Nokia threw a blank cheque at the conference, and as one blogger pointed out “Holy hell, Nokia and Intel have a lot of money to throw at us.”

The brand new Aviva Stadium was rented out for three days. The entire Guinness Storehouse, a swanky venue, was also taken for a night, featuring multiple bands and food. A football game was laid on, and open bars for three nights straight. Every delegate was given a touchscreen tablet-netbooks, a Lenovo IdeaPad S10 S3, running an early version of Meego.

Intel VP Doug Fisher spoke of a vision where a browsing capable machine would be in your car, kitchen, living room, pocket and bathroom. Android was portrayed as being “as fragmented as the Balkans”.

The stage should have been set for a boom in Meego apps.

But gradually the reality dawned.

Developer advocate Ronan Maclaverty sweated on stage as devs asked questions he couldn’t answer. There was talk of how devs “are going to be able to make a living”. There were precious little answers.

And despite all this spending and drinking – and even as a Bono impersonator (it was in Ireland) embarrased Irish attendees – few delegates ‘bought in’ to Meego.

Despite all the constantly repeated talk of Meego being more open than iOS and Android. Despite everyone being handed a free tablet loaded with Meego 1.1, delegates even had to cobble together a (after a few hours) a basic onscreen keyboard and an office suite, none of which came standard.

Only Nokia or Intel personnel seemed to advocate the platform.

And that was that. The writing was on the wall.

  • http://www.competitionhunter.com Iain

    I think it should be “momentous” in your first paragraph, unless there’s an analogous example from a company called Momentas :)

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  • brumbrum

    What’s my car car?

  • Abc

    I wonder whether Mike Butcher skipped English class. ” … the delegates poured over the only N900 Meego device”. Unless this was a deliberate metaphor, which I doubt, then they probably ‘pored’ over it. Or they could have been testing it for water-resistance.

    I suggest Mike pours pours over his draughts before pressing publish to avoid momentasly embaresyng mistakes.

  • Svdwal

    Why didn’t they mention Qt?

    All devs know that supporting a platform is a gamble. But Nokia had this ace upon their sleeve: Qt. Use Qt and much of your code is portable between Symbian and MeeGo. Ok, they had the stupid idea of using two different Ui libraries on top of Qt, one for Symbian and another one for Qt, but even then the code would have been very portable.

    So MeeGo could use Symbian’s market size to lift itself quickly above obsolescense levels. How on earth could they fail to mention that?

  • http://eothred.wordpress.com/ Yngve

    I don’t get the need for killing MeeGo. What I think Nokia should(‘ve) done, is shipping “stock Android phones” while waiting for MeeGo to mature. You know, the flavour of Android that makes the Nexus series quite popular, the one that makes “little to no effort” developing. Trouble with Nokia is they have to be completely one or the other for some reason. I’m sure a ton of people would’ve appreciated the hardware quality of Nokia with the quality software that is Android today.

  • Anonymous

    “only one [ meego ] device will come out this year.”
    So. Where is the big news here.

    Nokia already has shifted 4.5 million units using version 3 of Symbian.
    ( Obviously there are already 100s of millions of previous symbian 2 and earlier from
    previous phones out there also. )
    Symbian 3 is a roaring success but it is only Meego that will be enough to hold of the competition in 2012

    So Nokia already has 8->10 phones running it’s own software that launched this year.
    Add the new meego model makes 11.

    Whilst Nokia would have liked it to be a far more even split (say 5 symbian 3 and 5 meego phones)
    if Symbian is more capable right now, then stick with it and switch everything over next year.

    The “burning platform” memo, seems more like a call to arms, saying that they need to focus on delivering meego, sooner rather than later as they cannot get into 2012 and not have the newest platform available.

  • test

    Think you mean ‘pored over’ in 3rd para.

  • TheWorldFrenzy.com

    God, I could go for a few pints right about now…

    http://bit.ly/dI3hcF

  • TheWorldFrenzy.com

    God, I could go for a few pints right about now…

    http://bit.ly/dI3hcF

  • http://twitter.com/jlist Peter Payne

    Why does everyone believe there can be 5-6 viable mobile platforms? As with Coke, Pepsi and RC Cola, there will only be three in 2-3 years. iOS, Android, and Microsoft. There’s no other way to call it.

  • http://twitter.com/sirwinterbottom Sir B Winterbottom

    It has been foretold that Meego shall return, riding on the back of a penny farthing and wearing a bowler hat.

  • http://twitter.com/cimota Matt Johnston

    When Meego was the big thing, Nokia was trying to get us to develop for Symbian. When everyone knew a WP7 move was coming, we were being offered Meego training. Why do *we* know better than their Developer Relations? Hmm?

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