Is Nokia's first MeeGo device DOA? Here's what we know

Reuters is reporting that Nokia’s first device running MeeGo, its ‘next generation’ mobile operating system developed as a joint-venture with Intel, is dead on arrival. Or, specifically, it’s been canceled before actually being formerly announced. And yet, in the same report, analysts are cited as saying that the device could be revealed at the company’s Capital Markets Day this Friday or at Mobile World Congress on Sunday. Confused? Here’s what we know and what we’re hearing from our own well-placed sources.

First, it’s worth remembering that Nokia CEO Stephen Elop’s widely circulated internal memo titled ‘Standing on a burning platform’, the contents of which we first reported on exclusively earlier this week, alluded to major delays with Nokia’s first MeeGo handset. Elop says in that memo:

We thought MeeGo would be a platform for winning high-end smartphones. However, at this rate, by the end of 2011, we might have only one MeeGo product in the market.

That in itself would suggest that the first Nokia smartphone powered by MeeGo – thought to be the N9-00 – is far behind schedule. Originally, the Finnish handset maker was expected to release or at least formerly announce the N9 by the end of 2010.

But in fact, we heard from a source with knowledge of MeeGo’s development late last year that realistically this wasn’t going to happen, and indeed it didn’t. Now the CEO himself says that the first MeeGo device could be the only Nokia MeeGo device to reach the market in the whole of 2011.

Killing Meego Softly

Commenting on Elop’s memo and in context of Nokia’s anticipated support for Windows Phone 7, another well-placed source describes MeeGo as on “life support”. The implication being that MeeGo will be killed but softly in part to stop an exodus of engineers and also to save face with Intel. Or perhaps to give it just enough oxygen to remain as Nokia’s plan B.