Intel kept in the dark over Nokia’s MeeGo plans; operators reject first device

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Prior to the public announcement on Friday, Intel was kept in the dark with regards to Nokia’s plans to relegate MeeGo to a glorified R&D project, sources with knowledge of the situation tell TechCrunch Europe.

The U.S. chip maker, it appears, was caught off guard as were many media outlets and analysts – this publication aside – with the news that Nokia has forged a long term partnership with Microsoft that will see the handset maker adopt Windows Phone as its primary smartphone platform. Intel, which along with Nokia is developing the MeeGo operating system, is said to be extremely concerned now that Nokia will inevitably reduce its engineering commitment, which it desperately needs, and where this leaves plans to get its Atom chip into smartphones and other mobile devices.

We’ve also learned that Nokia’s first MeeGo device, originally scheduled to be announced late last year, has been sent back to the drawing board by operators.

The problem, says our source, is in relation to the “flimsy” hardware keyboard mechanism, which fell short of operator standards. This is surprising as it’s thought to share a similar hinge to the N97 and E7, both of which were accepted by carriers, although it could be that MeeGo requires a larger CPU and battery compared to Symbian and therefore leaves less room in the chassis. As a result, the first MeeGo smartphone, thought to be the N9-00, has indeed been canned. Instead, a second (and possibly last) MeeGo smartphone on the roadmap – the N9-01 – sans physical keyboard will be pushed out first, as earlier reported by Engadget.

Interestingly, well-placed sources also tell us that the device won’t feature the stock MeeGo UI but instead one designed by “a three person external team rather than any of Nokia’s hundreds of internal designers.” It could be announced as early as tomorrow at Mobile World Congress.

While not creating quite the same fanfare as Nokia’s newly forged partnership with Microsoft, the tie-in with Intel to co-develop MeeGo announced just under a year ago was seen by the industry as a pretty big deal. It was hoped that the open-source OS would put Nokia back into a leadership position in the smartphone space as Symbian inevitably trickled down to lower-cost, mass-market devices, while in turn and somewhat ironically it would give Intel the heavyweight partner it needed to “catalyse” MeeGo’s ecosystem. It also added immediate credibility to the chip maker’s aim to put “Intel inside” smartphones, tablets and other types of converged devices.

Twelve months later, however, and it’s abundantly clear that Nokia is choosing to “catalyse” Microsoft’s Windows Phone ecosystem instead.

  • Mohammad Mehdi

    Um.Maybe, MeeGo will be aimed at devices like Tablets. I don’t think Nokia will be crazy enough to put all its hope on WP7.

    • Mark Cathcart

      Hopefully they won’t, my experiences with WP7 suggest that apart from the flashy UI, it’s got less function that the Palm Tre650 with documents to go back in 2004…

      • ex-meegouser

        Nokia CEO, Stephen Elop, is the 7th biggest owner of MICROSOFT stock. His Nokia stock = 0

        Anti-trust, Fraud and Insider Trading charges should be brought against him.

        He sold Nokia for $0 so that he and his Microsoft bosses profit.

        R.I.P. Nokia


      • MobileGuy

        You are such an idiot… Elop isn’t even in the top 100 owners of MSFT stock (check their last SEC fililng). I wish there was an IQ test they could put in place for as a moron-test before being able to post…

      • Anonymous

        Look under “Top 10 Other Holders: MSFT”, Elop is #8, apparently used to be #7 when he had 200,000 shares.

        Was not allowed (by the Helsinki Stock Exchange) to sell Microsoft, buy Nokia ahead of this deal due to insider dealing concerns.

        Still, he should be thankful for that as he’s effectively killed Nokia and their shares will continue to tank until he’s sacked.

      • Derangedshaman

        “Still, he should be thankful for that as he’s effectively killed Nokia and their shares will continue to tank until he’s sacked”.

        LOL what? Sorry dude,but Nokia, Android, and iOS killed Nokia.

      • Michael Jacob

        That’s because it only has been around for four months? The iPhone has the same problems (even more) back in 2007.

    • Mark Cathcart

      Hopefully they won’t, my experiences with WP7 suggest that apart from the flashy UI, it’s got less function that the Palm Tre650 with documents to go back in 2004…

  • Ivan Kowalenko

    Rejected over a flimsy keyboard? This doesn’t sound like Nokia. I’ve never known a Nokia to have flimsy hardware of any kind. Perhaps the weakest thing on my old N73 was the combination battery back/lens cover, and that was surprisingly robust. The only flimsy thing I had seen on a Nokia was the 7510, which had a massive metal hinge, and the only reason it ever broke was because my sister was downright abusive to it (the other 7510 my other sister has, and treats like most people treat their phones, is still going strong). On the other hand, I’ve seen dozens of LGs and Samsungs that have fallen apart, or have had various malfunctions (like screen failure, software degredation, charging connectors breaking). So either this keyboard hinge was extraordinarily bad, especially by Nokia standards, or something else is going on here.

    Also, why would carriers rejecting the phone kill it entirely? In Europe it’s not uncommon for phones to be sold directly to the consumer, sans carrier involvement. So what would stop Nokia from selling the phone on their own to try and recoup some of their losses (and give Nokia/gadget diehards a chance to own the one and only MeeGo device: a look at a future that could have been). So unless there was something cataclysmically bad about the phone’s hardware (that would irreparably damage Nokia’s reputation), I don’t know why things would go down this way. Shouldn’t Quality Assurance catch those problems?

    • Steve O'Hear

      Operators don’t want high return rates and, I suspect, also preferred the pure slate design of a non-physical QWERTY. But the last point is just my guess.

      • mmm...

        Other manufacturers are still trying to play a catch up game as far as touch sensitivity and accuracy goes on a phone. So, enough people like me, who don’t want to pay unreasonable price for an iPhone, still want a physical keyboard. T-Mobile’s G2 is an example that physical keyboard has decent market.

    • Anonymous

      exactly, Nokia is known for unbreakable hardware. Who are the “operators”, I assume only US where Nokia has a small marketshare anyway. Doesn’t make sense at all.

  • and

    MeeGo is clearly dead before born … but Nokia andWM7 will follow it soon … and Android will reign indisputed

    • Ralph

      Lots of commenters assume WP7, but none of the press releases I saw said WP7 on Nokia, they said Windows Phone. Maybe WP7 willl be a near term placate the media GTM move, but the real interesting thing about this partnership is collaboration on already in development Win/WP8

      • Anonymous

        if Nokia waits that long, it won’t have any customers to sell it to.

    • Lisa Carter


  • and

    MeeGo is clearly dead before born … but Nokia andWM7 will follow it soon … and Android will reign indisputed

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  • Derangedshaman

    Is there really more room for another mobile OS? The market looks a little crowded ATM.

    • mmm...

      Yes, I still need choice of phones that are based on great partnerships among various market segments to deliver the following and more:
      – feature rich and has great freamework and APIs to allow rapid development of custom applications; such as iOS, Android, WP7,…
      – efficient as Symbian
      – open as an unlocked phone
      – compatible with carriers accross the world; Nokia e7 and N7 have done great job than lot of others, still needs to be done more
      – worry free contract free plans; such as T-Mobile’s Even More Plus plans
      – run on networks the provide large congestion free super fast networks
      – deep communication stack (such as VOIP) as Symbian has

      It’s all possible only when these companies have their primary goal as ‘delivering superior value to the customer and give worry free experience’, and is only possible through appropriate inter-dependence. This deal is one step in that direction, but may not be part of such goal. May the consumer choices drive market forces and steamroll these partnerships in that direction.

      (Wow! I just wrote a goal for a company/partnership that could put Apple and that crowded market place to extinction.)

  • Anonymous

    OK this really makes a lot of sense when you think about it.

  • KenG

    If Intel wants to show the world how good MeeGo is, they should port it to the N8. If it works well, they might be able to convince other handset mfrs to use it on new devices.

    OK, that’s just me trying to get something other than Symbian 3 to run on my N8.

  • Anonymous

    I am still in shock over the announcements !! This pretty f**K*** stupid decision by Elop, he is getting ready to gut the company enough so Microsoft could eventually buy it out!

    Take my word for it, 2 years down the line, Elop is back in Microsoft(obv. MS buys NOK) in line to take over ballmar, Nokia is the payoff that Elop is giving microsoft to become CEO of microsoft….

    I know i am ranting, but when lot of logical reasons fail to explain things, you resort to speculation! Here is my speculation!

    • silpol

      Elop is not stupid – he is 7th largest personal shareholder in MS, and has NONE shares of Nokia. Do you need more explanation? this is takeover at almost zero price for billions-worth company.

      • Guatemala Antigua

        Interesting! Can you point out any sources?

      • Markus B
      • silpol

        probably USD 3 million is too little against zero size of NOK in possession, or what is your math ? or how exactly you measure yours “so what?” ?

      • sandre

        BS. Elop owns only 3 million $s worth of MS stock. That’s peanuts for a CEO. He is not trying to make billions from his MSFT stocks. He was at MS only for about 2 years.

      • silpol

        and he has zero NOK stock so please start your own peanuts calculations again. Do you have any other means to measure his interest or performance motivation? or anything else logical/sensible to put in? or are you just throwing BS-word at anything which questions your opinions?

      • Anonymous

        MS share will rise substantially only if this deal goes wildly successful (selling >150m phone by 2012), if that happens Nokia will profit too. Also, if Nokia can’t match that no. in yearly compensation, it deserves to go downhill.

      • Anonymous

        3M $ is petty cash by any standard. Nokia will easily pay 50-100 times if he can get Nokia back on track

    • Anonymous

      In an after thought, any news or ideas if Nokia will gut MeeGo’s internal developers before or after 1st device….

      • silpol

        what I see inside is that team is quite determined to deliver and technically is able to do so. what could be hindrance in a way is slow down by reduced headcount on externals/subcontractors (but I see it rather as positive step), and more need to polish on tech problems what otherwise could be compensated by marketing budget. and we have nice options to throw away crap forced on us by product management in order to simplify and make it more reliable.

        As for Qt, it will get more polish at least and upstream more stability/quality – it is still rough on many sides: e.g. their resource efficiency is still at desktop level, and there are quite a few bugs at low-level libs e.g. in pthreads use, and battery consumption needs serious effort yet.

        for NA competition, well, it is very separate topic for discussion, and we probably won’t get on same opinion anyway.

      • Asdg

        I tell you what Intel has been getting a few knockbacks with long term customers migrating or going plural. Nokia too from being a market leader now also looks more and more like an also run. It’s a hard world out there.  Chocolate classes london

    • SValley

      The mobile phone operating software / device market is consolidating fast and it is going to be a three horse race between Google’s Android, Apple and of course you cannot discount Microsoft .  Nokia to have any chance of surviving had to ally with one of them.  Give it a few years and this titanic struggle with be a classic business case at  corporate events and MBA seminars ….. once it becomes clear who the winner(s) are that is.

  • dnhuch

    I think that this partnership with Microsoft was the biggest mistake Nokia could have made!! I don’t understand why they picked Windows over Android, and I’m an iOS user!! It’s the nail of their coffin, unfortunately!!

    • truth hurts

      as an IOS user, i wonder why u sound worried. after all its the ‘nail of their coffin’, shouldn’t it be fortunate for u?….. but again i think its is quite clear where u stand ‘ some one that just had to comment’.

      • Reis Tiago

        Why can’t a person that currently uses iOS be worried with a decision made by a company that could make a future phone that he would buy?

        You do know that the fact that he currently owns a i(something) doesn’t mean that he will always continue with the same brand right?

        I don’t have a Nokia phone right know, but I wished that MeeGo would be a success to push Apple, Google, Microsoft, RIM, etc to make their product better. Competition is good for the consumer, not bad

      • Al

        The more competition in the market the more pressure on Apple and others to add more features and to keep prices down.

        Plus a lot of us would prefer not see to see Nokia becoming part of MS
        and MS owning Nokias tons of patents

    • mmm...

      I own a Nokia phone, installed MeeGo on a netbook, and attended a WP7 developer conference.

      I buy Nokia phones for their compatibility; upcoming e7 is compatible with almost all GSM carriers on the earth, including T-Mobile and AT&T, which is extremely rare. It has mind-blowing number of radios. I just wonder how efficient Symbian should be to have more than a day of battery life under normal use. But, it’s poor interface and annoying bugs (they call them features sometimes) can’t stand a chance against competition.

      I liked MeeGo interface over Symbian. But, pace of progress to refine it was simply unacceptable; Especially, when their rate of market share decline is unnerving. I am a subscriber to MeeGo bug report emails and the mood in the community is less than hopeful, definitely not exhilarating.

      I felt WP7 needs a refinement when i attended the conference around four months ago. But, if Microsoft is serious about mobile space they can play catch up. Partnership with Nokia is the best marriage both companies could have to regain lost market share. Nokia proved they can make good hardware, and with Windows 7, Microsoft proved that they can make strides in usability.

      Under the circumstances this partnership is the best chance both companies have. Intel need not be the loser here. There is good room for them to join the party and add value.

      In the end, all boils down to how agile these companies are and undergo radical transformation to adapt and beat the competition. It’s an uphill task. They have the opportunity.

      I use unlocked phones and due for an upgrade. Until I read this article, I wanted to see their MeeGo phones before I decide on upcoming e7 and other Android handsets. Now I just go for an Android, and keep an eye on Nokia-WinMo developments. I am open, and they have a chance to impress me when it’s time for another upgrade.

    • Anonymous

      Simple with android, they’ll be just another vendor. MS will give them more say/share in ecosystem. and the Bs MS is offering.

    • Lisa Antony

      This is going to be a great partnership. The world’s leading phone manufacturer with an awesome OS. It will get better and better. Just look at iOS. When it was released it was laughable and now it is rockin. What is the point of being so disappointed? Just give it some time and we will definitely see success.

      I also think it will be quite likely we’ll see other features I can’t really understand why are currently missing in WP7, such as thetering and Sync with Outlook.
      In other words, I think this degree of exclusivity may be enough to generate that uniqueness that is indeed needed to compete against the iPhone.
      Check this to see what other developers have to say:

  • Intel kept in the dark over Nokia’s MeeGo plans; operators reject first device (Steve O’Hear/TechCrunch Europe) |

    […] O’Hear / TechCrunch Europe: Intel kept in the dark over Nokia’s MeeGo plans; operators reject first device  —  Prior to the public announcement on Friday, Intel was kept in the dark with […]

  • silpol

    unfortunately, almost everything is very far from reality.

  • Slickmagic

    Most people here are just whining like babies. It is pretty obvious most of you are upset Google didn’t get the deal. You are not fooling anyone with your soothsayer rhetoric summoning the doom of Nokiasoft before they have barely begun. Apple is way up there and i doubt the deal will have any dent in their market share. But for all those android fanboys, you and i know Microsoft is back in the game and they gonna catch up fast as the android platform fragments. But hey, go ahead, have your therapy and call the deal stupid. Your prerogative but i am nto fooled.

    • Victor Tiamson

      Right I am also an Android Developer. But I also welcome Nokia-WP7. Hurray, I got no fanboy blood running on my Veins! hahah

    • Anonymous

      You’re wrong, we’re upset because Nokia killed meego and it’s now only a hardware manufacturer. Outside US, Nokia still has a lot of loyal fans, maybe it’s hard for you americans to understand but some of us do care about Nokia.

      • Anonymous

        If principles of open-source truly stand and Meego is deserving candidate. It should be picked by the community.

      • Carlos Osuna-Roffe

        That could or could not be true. Nokia may be announcing a show stopper deal with Microsoft, but has privately said it won’t cover all of Nokia, just some segments.

        With that said, it’s a safe bet to insist that Symbian is dead. Those were the thousand developers that resigned the event day. But moving all the Symbian crowd will take time, as WP7 current specs are only for high end. Probably Microsoft and Nokia will rise the Kin team back from the dead and focus their ill-fated “platform” as a Symbian replacement, or they will convert the Zune OS for feature phones.

        But MeeGo is still the great mystery as it involves a partnership with Intel and am sure they will not surrender their only hope at smartphone greatness just to please their long time partner. So quite probably, Nokia will keep a silent MeeGo group working closely with Intel as a secret plan B, if WP7 fails. Atom is not ready for the smartphone market, and neither is MeeGo. But both have a serious chance to beat them all once the hybrid system (aka Motorola Atrix-like) matures. Moblin was a serious platform for netbooks before the merge with Maemo. Maemo had neither a tablet platform nor a smartphone use. On hindsight merging them was a mistake.

      • Anonymous

        It sounds plausible. but Nokia is now run by a Microsoft mole, I’m not sure if there will be still resources for a secret meego project (Elop would put everything into WP7, he doesn’t care if Nokia has a way out if WP7 fails.) And if depends on the length of the deal, if Nokia has the options to go with another OS and resurrect meego if the first badge of WP7 don’t sell well, a turn around might still be possible. I wouldn’t bet on it, they accepted billions from MS, they must have made a long term commitment.

        Zune and Kin?? geez. Well, I guess it’s better than seeing symbian dies a slow death.

    • Guatemala Antigua

      no, its NOT about google didn’t get the deal. i don’t care about android.

    • Veirden

      You must be really joking or stuck in a hole for past 5 days. Nobody cares why they didn’t go with Google. Everyone laments fall of Nokia as the innovator in mobile development and displacement of Meego as a platform. With Nokia gone, only Google/Android is left as the one true innovator which is not thing you expect in a innovation driven ecosystem. If you really think it is android fans who are angry then you are fool much like the rest of the people who green signaled this deal. Also, the “share” of Nokia till now has been in Symbian segmentand not in smartphone. Enjoy your pipe dream.

    • Carlos Osuna-Roffe

      Nobody’s calling the deal “stupid”, just asymmetric. Microsoft “wins” more than Nokia “looses”. In the end, the market will decide if it was the correct way to go or not.

      As said, the camps have defined themselves at this point:

      a) Motorola will be all Android and Nokia will be all WP7.

      b) Samsung, LG, HTC and (probably) Dell are left in-between hedging bets on both sides.

      c) Apple, of course, is iOS. HP, webOS. RIM’s in the middle of a transition to QNX.

      d) Sony-Ericsson is also split, although the have shown no WP7 phone at this moment.

  • Scott

    “and Android will reign indisputed”

    Indisputed? English much?

    Nokia is Microsoft East.

    • mmm...

      Just like you seem to think English language proficiency could make you reign supreme, Nokia thought their ability to make good hardware at cheap price would keep them supreme. Now they are endangered species.

      World is changing fast. American companies are flocking to do business with China and India NOT because of their English language proficiency, but because they can add value.

      You seem to understand the intended expression. Isn’t that good enough? You should have at least mentioned the correct word ‘undisputed’; that would have helped him if he is trying to improve at English, and that would have served as saving grace for you.

      Let go of your ego and get over with your perceived supremacy. You would be looked like an ass otherwise.

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  • Anonymous

    The first rule of Microsoft partnerships is that you don’t talk about Microsoft partnerships.

    The second rule of Microsoft partnerships is that you stab your other partners in the back.

    The third rule of Microsoft partnerships is that you accept Microsoft as your only partner.

    • Anonymous

      I like the first rule which makes sense in any business, the second & third rules don’t make any sense given that Microsoft has thousands of partners and if MSFT was stabbing them in their back they would have walked away long time ago.
      to name a few DELL, HP, LENOVO, Yahoo, NVidia, Intel, AMD, Xerox, Toshiba, … ec

      • Ben

        I think he was talking about rules for the partners specifically. In other words, Microsoft’s partners don’t (or, aren’t supposed to) talk about their partnerships, they are supposed to stab their other partners in the back (Intel in this case, I guess), and they should accept only Microsoft as their partner (by stabbing their other partners in the back, that basically puts them in that position anyway).

        Can’t say whether that’s actually the case here, but it doesn’t look pretty.

      • App Today

        Also, look back at Microsoft/IBM partnership on OS/2. IBM was left with a half-baked OS while MS decided to shift development for 16-bit Windows 95

      • Anonymous

        Win NT was replacement of OS/2, Win 95 was successor of Win 3.x

      • Anonymous

        NDA is a standard practice followed by every company.
        It would be stupid for Nokia to commit resource to 3 platforms when they aren’t able to execute them.
        HP/Intel are still an MS partner despite competing in diff circles. HTC/Samsung/LG have android and WP7 phones

      • Hans Kw

        Microsoft also stabbed Intel in the back with their (supposed) partnership with (Chinese) NuFront to deliver an ARM-chip for desktops which wil run Windows.

        Of course, Intel stabbed Microsoft in the back in 2006 when it delivered Linux-desktops to rural China.

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