News broke this morning that Nokia’s executive in charge of MeeGo devices, Ari Jaaksi, resigned last week. This continues a string of high-profile people leaving the world’s largest mobile phone company as it attempts to establish an identity in the quickly-evolving mobile space. The internal turmoil and the recent hiring of former Microsoft executive Stephen Elop to be Nokia’s new CEO has led to quite a bit of speculation that Nokia may turn away from its own operating systems and go with the new Windows Phone OS — or at least fork its products to have this OS as an option on top of the upcoming MeeGo. But don’t rule out Google’s Android OS just yet either.
We’ve heard from a good source that Google CEO Eric Schmidt has called Elop to discuss the possibility of Android running on Nokia phones. We actually heard this information about a week ago, but today’s news makes it potentially more interesting. Around the time Jaaksi was resigning, Elop and Schmidt were talking.
Further, when the idea of a Nokia phone running Windows Phone 7 was brought up to an insider with knowledge of strategy inside of Nokia, that person laughed — “hysterically.” According to the insider, if Nokia were to go in another direction other than MeeGo, Android is much more likely than Windows Phone 7 — even with Elop on board. That said, this person believes Android would be a temporary measure perhaps to show off Nokia’s great hardware if MeeGo isn’t ready to go in the next few (or several) months. Early indications of devices such as the N9 seem to suggest exactly that.
MeeGo still is the future, according to this source. Or at least it was — remember, this information came before it was known that Jaaksi was resigning. But considering Nokia just brought in Peter Skillman last month to head up MeeGo user experience (Skillman designed the Palm Pre, and we broke the news of him leaving HP/Palm back in August), it would seem that the company will at least give it some more time to see what happens.
In the meantime, might Nokia go with another OS as a temporary solution? A couple weeks ago, the company said “no“, but things seem to be very fluid at the moment. Nokia doesn’t have a lot of time to act here. Every day they don’t move beyond Symbian is a day they fall farther behind Apple, Google, and RIM. And soon that list will include Microsoft once again.
At the moment, the only real downside of going with Android, even if it’s only temporary, is a potential lawsuit by Microsoft (which is suing everyone these days that tries to use Android without licensing its patents first). Elop probably knows some people over there who could help with that.