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.

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