Nokia, a victim of its own success and poor choices
How does a company that was the leading mobile handset maker in the world for 15 years, and $11 Billion in cash just five years ago become an also ran? That’s a question many at Nokia must have asked themselves as they watched it lose control of its own destiny and instead become highly reliant on a strategic alliance with Microsoft to survive. A former manager with the Finnish phone giant spoke with Electronista about the company's unraveling over the past five years, which he traced to Nokia's decision to pursue both Symbian OS and Maemo OS as two distinct development initiatives.
Nokia backs new MeeGo startup Jolla, hands over patents
Jolla, the newly-founded Finnish startup aiming to resuscitate Nokia's abandoned MeeGo mobile OS, has received a helping hand from Nokia, reports ItViiko. The code underpinning MeeGo, like Android, is Linux-based and open source and came into existence when Nokia and Intel formed an alliance to merge Nokia's Maemo OS with Intel's Moblin OS. This still left a number of OS patents in Nokia's hands, which it has graciously handed over to Jolla to help the company get off the ground.
MeeGo resuscitated by ex-Nokia employees and MeeGo community
A team of ex-Nokia employes have joined with a group of MeeGo coders to form a new smartphone company dubbed Jolla. Jolla is Finnish for 'dinghy,' which suggests that its goal is to create a life raft for the stalled platform and push it forward commercially. The new organization is headed up by a former 11 year veteran of Nokia Marc Dillon who was the Principal Engineer of its Maemo OS, before it was merged with Intel's Moblin OS to create MeeGo.
Nokia shy on tablets by says Windows 8 a boost
Nokia CEO Stephen Elop during an interview in the wake of Nokia World left the door open for a Windows 8 tablet. While he wouldn't comment on Nokia's own strategy, he told the Finacial Times Microsoft's desktop OS an "interesting opportunity," even indirectly. Because both Windows 8 and the new Lumia phones shared the basic tile-based interface, any success from Windows 8 tablets could draw attention to Windows Phone.
Firefox 4 Release Candidate for handhelds out
Mozilla has now released the Firefox 4 Release Candidate for portable devices running on Android or Maemo operating systems. There software is available in more than 10 languages and brings with it many improvements, most of which are mentioned in the video below.
Nokia to discuss Harmattan OS details in May
Nokia may soon release a device that runs on a new OS, Maemo 6, dubbed Harmattan. Last mentioned in 2009, the software's future will be discussed in a devoted session at the upcoming MeeGo Conference in San Francisco late in May. Harmattan should be API-compatible with MeeGo 1.2 to let apps work in both, but it wouldn't behave exactly like MeeGo.
Nokia picks Nystrom as new MeeGo head
Nokia's MeeGo marketing lead said on Tuesday that the company had already picked a new head for the MeeGo team. Sebastian Nyström will jump from the top spot on the Qt team to head up the mobile OS. He replaces Alberto Torres, who left immediately after the Windows Phone 7 shakeup.
Intel confident in finding new MeeGo partner
During an analyst meeting htis week, Intel Chief Executive Paul Otellini said his company was looking for other MeeGo partners in the wake of Nokia's Microsoft deal. He further accused the phone maker of dropping the co-developed OS in favor of Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 after being offered "incredible" amounts of money. Both Google and Microsoft offered Nokia money to adopt their OS, the Intel chief claimed.
Zokem says iPhone still most loyal brand
iPhone users are still the most loyal to the platform by a wide margin, Zokem found in a study on Tuesday. Apple's platform was unique in commanding not only high loyalty from existing users, 85 percent of which planned to buy again, but being the most frequently sought after by those jumping over from competitors. Android had a higher loyalty, at 89 percent of existing owners likely to buy again, but there was higher overall turnover and fewer using another mobile OS likely to choose it as their next platform.
Amazon top 2010 list has Kindle, MacBook Pro
Amazon wrapped up the year on Thursday with word that itself and Apple topped the lists of its most popular items of the year. The Kindle with Wi-Fi unsurprisingly topped both the bestseller and wish list charts for electronics, but Apple had unusual success in computers. The 13-inch MacBook Pro was both the bestselling notebook on Amazon and the most wished for, although the most gifted was a low-end, 15.6-inch Toshiba Satellite.
Skype slips CES plans for video calls on iPhone
Skype's plans to bring video calling to the iPhone and the iPad were given away today with a help document (may not show the same on all browsers). The page tells users how to set up video calls on the mobile platform and promises that it will work on 3G as well as with Mac and Windows clients. It also won't be limited to the iPhone 4 or fourth-generation iPod touch, Skype said, adding that current iPad owners would only get one-way video calls from recipients.
Nokia N900 hacked to run on Android 2.3
Nokia’s N900 flagship smartphone was hacked by the NITDroid group to run Android 2.3, according to HDBlog. While not everything is fully working, the hacked handset can access cellular data, with sound and Wi-Fi functional. A photo of the hacked device, embedded below, was posted on Twitter as well.
Nokia Ovi Store at 3m, still trailing others
Nokia today said that the Ovi Store had reached a symbolic milestone of three million downloads per day. The new rate is a sharp increase from 2.3 million in October. About 165 million people worldwide have used the store.
N900 with MeeGo gets full 3G call hooks
The MeeGo mobile OS team today said that it had successfully switched on calling for the Nokia N900. The build lets users try the new mobile OS with full 3G voice support. It remains a test feature and still needs a very recent build, but it should give users a simple transition to MeeGo without having to lose the core phone function.
Firefox 4 mobile beta arrives
Mozilla this evening posted the first beta of Firefox 4 mobile for Android and Maemo devices. Known as Fennec before the change, the new version introduces a Layers concept that should be much faster for animation, scrolling and zooms through the interface. It now recognizes multi-touch zooming on any device that supports the feature itself and carries Firefox Sync of bookmarks, forms, history and tabs from the desktop.
Intel dashes Nokia hopes by putting MeeGo in 2011
Intel set back Nokia's competitiveness in mobile on Thursday with an update that MeeGo won't reach a shipping phone until 2011. Software VP Doug Fisher claimed to Forbes that the mobile OS was on track but noted that MeeGo would only get real phone call and touchscreen support with 1.1, a pre-release update due later this month. Most of the devices shipping in 2010 will be non-touch devices like netbooks and in-car computers with the exception of the German-made WeTab slate, which suffered a hit after the company's chief was caught faking reviews.
RIM deal for DataViz official
RIM today confirmed a rumor from the weekend that it had acquired much of DataViz in a deal that could shake up professional mobile apps. The company in a statement said it had bought only some of the company's assets but was hiring most of the Documents To Go developer's staff to support the BlackBerry. It wouldn't confirm the $50 million asking price as it was "not material" enough to legally require disclosure.
RIM buyout of DataViz gives Documents To Go
A leak suggests RIM may have quietly snapped up DataViz in a move that could shake up productivity apps on mobile devices. Multiple sources for CrackBerry say the BlackBerry maker acquired DataViz for $50 million. Although not publicly acknowledged by RIM, the LinkedIn profiles of multiple DataViz staff members have recently shown job switches to the Canadian company.
PSJailbreak gets Maemo and webOS hack tools
The recently frozen PS3 jailbreak has been reworked to be usable through smartphones. After having been open-sourced as PSGroove, PSJailbreak is now available through code (PSFreedom) that runs from an attached Nokia N900, Palm Pre and even the Dingoo. In most cases, the technique works by catching the Sony console on startup and inserting an exploit of a memory heap overflow hole that defeats the blocks placed on what apps can run.
Fennec Alpha browser now out for Android, N900
Mozilla has released the Alpha build of its Fennec mobile Firefox browser for Android devices and the Nokia N900. The browser is the first to offer add-ons and uses the same rendering code as Firefox for desktop systems. Fennec Alpha brings with it Firefox Sync that shares Awesome Bar browsing history, bookmarks, passwords, form-fill data and open tabs between desktop and mobile devices.
Sony recruiting for books on Android devices
Sony may have slipped out plans for Android hardware and software through a job listing discovered on LinkedIn. The post for a Senior Staff Software Engineer focused on Android would have the programmer helping the Digital Reading group create "application software for digital reading and other consumer electronic devices." Specifics aren't mentioned, but the wording would allow both for a touchscreen Reader with Android as well as a stand-alone Android app.
Firefox Mobile 1.1 live for Maemo devices
Mozilla treated Nokia N900 and N810 owners this weekend by posting its first finished moblie web browser. Firefox Mobile 1.1 gives the Maemo-running phone the same browser engine as Firefox 3.6 on the desktop and now has features that have normally been off-limits. Add-ons give it extension beyond its original functionality; phone users can now save pages to PDF for viewing offline.
Nokia Ovi rules let individual pubs, free signing
Nokia today reworked some of its rules and software to rekindle developer interest in the Ovi Store. The phone maker is responding to a long called for move is now letting individuals, rather than just companies, sign up as Ovi Publishers. Developers can also now have their apps signed for free instead of having to pay per app, and Nokia promises to cut in half the time needed for an app to be signed.
Skype says watching FaceTime only, not using it
Skype today clarified its interest in iPhone 4 and the possibility of video chat. A spokesman said Skype was curious about FaceTime and wanted to "see how this process unfolds" but made clear that the company didn't have any near-term intention of using Apple's open video call standard for Skype chats. Its now confirmed earlier remarks were simply about getting the "best possible experience" for video calls on the iPhone app, the company told Electronista.
Skype hopes to spread FaceTime as standard
An insider at Skype today said the company would like to spread Apple's newly developed FaceTime video calls through other apps and platforms. The VoIP app developer wants to move the technology past the iPhone 4 to other platforms. The unnamed Pocket-lint source said Skype would "welcome the opportunity" to collaborate with Apple on getting FaceTime into the Skype iPhone app and would also likely spread to other hardware. Desktops and TVs were among the likely candidates.
Skype to bring app for Nokia N900 this week
Skype will launch an app later this week for the Nokia N900 that will let users hold two-way video calls. Thus far, conversations can be had with other Skype users on their notebooks or desktops, but the service will soon include the ability to call other mobile clients and Skype-on-TV users with LG and Panasonic sets.
Nokia N900 gets version 1.2 software tomorrow
Nokia has revealed that a new software update will be out on Wednesday for its N900 flagship smartphone. Version 1.2 of the Maemo firmware brings with it improved communication that lets users accept or decline an event invitation right from a user's inbox. There is also the ability to hold Facebook IM chats and support for video calling. A simple but effective update brings the ability to surf the web in landscape mode.
LG scraps Atom-based phone
LG dashed hopes in an unusual fashion today by claiming the GW990 was just a concept device. Although it was scheduld for the fall at CES, the electronics giant now claims that it was never going to be a production device and won't be made. The apparent change of heart hasn't been explained.
Nokia may go below N900 in price with large screen
A purported leak by Taiwan's Commercial Times newspaper today has Nokia developing its second Maemo smartphone as an unusual entry level model. While it would have a slower Qualcomm 7000 series processor compared to the N900's quick Samsung ARM Cortex-A8, the unnamed new phone would have a four-inch or larger touchscreen. Compal would make the handset, and it would notably be the contractor's first phone to have a pure cost over $150; the actual selling price would be higher.
Android now supported by Atom smartphones
Intel on Tuesday greenlit the use of Android for smartphones that use the chipmaker's Atom processors. At the Intel Developer Forum in Beijing, General Manager of Intel's software and services group Renee James said the open-source operating system is already running on Atom handsets, though would not elaborate.
Analyst claims Nokia tablet may show this fall
Nokia is developing a new tablet that would compete with the iPad, Rodman Renshaw analyst Ashok Kumar claimed in a currently questionable note. He didn't describe the form factor but said the Finnish phone maker was hoping to have a tablet on the market as early as the fall. His only confidence was that any entry was unlikely to compete with Apple or other major rivals.
MeeGo ready for app writers on ARM and x86
The team behind the new MeeGo mobile OS has launched the first system images on its download page. The files give developers their first chances at writing apps for the Intel- and Nokia-made platform and will let them see the underlying infrastructure. The user interface isn't yet public but won't be immediately necessary to start development.
First phone with Intel CPU will also use Intel OS
Just one day after the announcement that Nokia and Intel would be merging their respective mobile Linux versions, LG has confirmed that its GW990 smartphone would use the new MeeGo OS. The GW990 had originally been slated to use Intel's Linux-based OS, Moblin. It will likely be the first MeeGo phone to be released.
Intel, Nokia create MeeGo from Moblin, Maemo
Chipmaker Intel and cell phone manufacturer Nokia on Monday announced they will merge their respective Moblin and Maemo mobile device operating systems into a single OS. Dubbed MeeGo, the companies plan to have the Linux-based platform running a plethora of devices including smartphones, tablets, netbooks and in-car entertainment systems as well. MeeGo will be hosted by the Linux Foundation, and apps written for it will be available both through Nokia's Ovi Store and Intel's AppUp Center.
Maemo gets Firefox first
Mozilla this weekend slipped out its first completed version of Firefox Mobile. The new version works with Nokia's Maemo 5-based devices and is primarily intended for the N900. The open-source developers promise a browser more powerful than most others and give features that are closer to the desktop, including tabbed browsing, extensions and bookmark syncing through Weave. Support for add-ons lets the N900 play YouTube or use other components without ever having to leave the web.
Nokia's Q4 2009 a sharp recovery for phones
Nokia this morning touted a sharp turnaround in its smartphone share for the last quarter of 2009. It shipped about 20.8 million of the devices in the fall versus just 16.4 million in the summer. With an estimated 52.4 million smartphones shipped in the entire smartphone market compared to 47 million, Nokia estimates that it has jumped back from a recent low of 35 percent share in the summer to 40 percent by the end of last year.
Nokia provides further look at next OS
Nokia today submitted a proposal to Symbian that would guide how the latter's late 2010 OS, Symbian^4, should look. The new OS layout is a refinement of an early tease and includes multiple home screens and widgets like Android, albeit as distinct pages rather than part of one continuous desktop.It would also have a much less cluttered interface with menu bars that can disappear and a primary menu that would involve just top-level items for apps, contacts, music and images.
Nokia N900 gets access to Ovi Store beta
Thanks to a recently released 21MB firmware update for the Linux Maemo-powered N900, Nokia has made its Ovi app store accessible to users of the handset. Admittedly, only the beta version of the store is available thus far. The icon opens a link in the phone's native browser, where users can browse a limited amount of apps.
Firefox Mobile to popularize web apps?
Nokia's lack of halo phone hurting chances
Nokia's first half of 2010 will be an uphill struggle without a viable device to beat its rivals, a research note by MKM Partners analyst Tero Kuittinen warns today. Citing checks, he notes that N97 sales have continued decline since the smartphone's peak of 2 million this summer and that its reworked cousin, the N97 mini, has been "soft" from the outset. Without either acting as a sales leader, the Finnish company is likely to struggle as rivals like Android devices, the BlackBerry line and the iPhone steal share.
Nokia wants simpler smartphone range
Nokia told those in an Internet broadcast that it plans to produce half as many smartphones in 2010 as it did this year. The company is scaling back the number of models to avoid "unnecessary differentiation" and ship multiple phones with only small changes between them. Those models that are left should get more attention as a result.
Nokia shows Symbian3 for first half 2010
Nokia as part of its Capital Markets Day earlier this week showed a presentation that provided a brief glimpse of the future of Symbian on its phones. The Finnish phone maker expects the next release of the OS, Symbian^3, to ship in the first half of 2010 and to bring features overdue for the platform, including multi-touch input with flick scrolling, pinch-to-zoom and other gestures. The company also expects the interface to become about three times faster and to greatly simplify steps that have normally been overly complex on Symbian: it hopes for users to setup an e-mail account or get to a favorite song in two steps versus the several in Symbian today.
Nokia may be stuck on S60 next year
Despite calls to upgrade quickly, Nokia is going to add just one phone based on its Maemo OS next year, a source said today. A tip to Reuters claims the N900 will get just a single companion model and that the rest of the lineup will continue to use some form of Symbian. The reason behind the supposed decision isn't evident.
Nokia N900 with Maemo Linux now in the US
Nokia on Wednesday lived up to an earlier promise by officially announcing its N900 smartphone is now available for purchase in the US. The company's first phone to use Maemo Linux is being touted as a mobile computer, thanks in large part to the OS and its ability to Mozilla-based browser with Flash support as well as the capability to run many apps at the same time. There is also 32GB of storage space available to users.
Most Nokia phones to use Maemo by 2012
Nokia will abandon Symbian for all its Nseries services by 2012, the company said at a launch event for the N900. The Maemo-based smartphone is the only one of its type in Nokia's lineup so far, but the company plans to gradually phase out Symbian S60 on all its Nseries devices over time. It should eventually end in relatively mainstream devices and not just high-end flagships like the N900, which itself is considered a "bridge" between the old and new worlds.
Old rumor of Nokia buying Palm resurfaces
Palm stock climbed over 8 percent on Friday after speculation that it would be bought out by Finland-based Nokia. Trading was about 15 times heavier than usual in the morning and remained heavy until the end of the day. The spike mirrored a similar increase from late September.
Nokia's first Maemo phone now ready
Nokia on Tuesday said it has started shipping the N900, its new flagship. The crossover between its Internet tablets and media smartphones is the company's first phone to use Maemo Linux instead of Symbian and is better-suited to modern computing: it has both a full Mozilla-based browser with Flash but basic multi-touch and multitasking that can support many simultaneous apps open. Helping this is along are a fast ARM Cortex-A8 processor and 256MB of RAM that closely resemble the hardware in the iPhone 3GS.
Nokia ports Qt to Maemo 5, outs some Maemo 6 info
Nokia on Friday revealed early details of Maemo 6, its next-generation smartphone platform. The OS will be the first to natively support multi-touch and capacitive touchscreens and should finally put the Linux-based OS on par with modern platforms like iPhone or webOS. Until now, the software has depended on single-touch resistive (pressure-dependent) screens incapable of gestures or other more precise movements.
Device sports an impressive UI and features list
Along with Nokia's Booklet 3G, Electronista at CTIA also had a chance to fondle the upcoming N900 smartphone. Despite criticisms of the predecessor, the N97, the N900 represents a fresh attempt for the company to edge ahead against its competitors in the smartphone arena.
Android 2nd place in share in 3 years
Google's Android will be the second-largest smartphone platform in as little as three years, according to Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney estimated on Wednesday. While it trails today, the mobile OS is predicted to climb to 14.5 percent of the market, or about 76 million phones sold per year, by the end of 2012. As a consequence, it would whittle Symbian's market share down to 39 percent (203 million phones) and just slightly overtake the iPhone, which in this view would have 13.7 percent of the market or 71.5 million devices.