Earlier this week, Nokia announced plans to lay off 10,000 employees, divest premium phone brand Vertu, and also acquire long-time camera R&D innovation partners.
Meltimi was the internal codename for Nokia’s Linux phone efforts, derived from the MeeGo Harmattan platform that was used in the Nokia N9. The smartphone was born out of a failed relationship with Intel, and was compatible with MeeGo, while being powered by the company’s existing Maemo efforts, used in the Nokia N700, N800/N810, and N900.
The goal of Meltimi was primarily to stay alive. After the rupture between Intel and Nokia, the billion dollar investment from Microsoft, and Nokia’s commitment to embrace Windows Phone exclusively… the writing was always on the wall for the project. However, Meltimi had support from inside Nokia. Employees staged protests challenging Steven Elop’s course for the company, and Meltimi assuaged those who were disappointed at the company’s intent to scrap both Symbian and MeeGo over the next few years.
But Meltimi did have a passionate goal. Ultimately, its goal was to replace Series 40 at its end of life, empowering smartphones to be cheap, and roll with the punches of a developing world’s harsh limitations in power, cost, and connectivity. Technology enthusiasts held out hope that Meltimi would survive Steven Elop’s current direction, and eventually be able to dovetail back to Linux-powered superphones, free from the restrictions of walled gardens such as Windows Phone Marketplace, and the iOS App Store.
Meltimi however was a PR blunder for Nokia. The evangelists of the world dismissed Nokia’s Windows Phone efforts, which continue to bleed into the red, while looking to devices that would not launch for years to come. This created a psychological black eye for Nokia, similar to Apple’s Copland operating system. With Copland years from launching, the media had dismissed Apple’s existing System 7 computers, waiting for an operating system that had no guarantee of even launching. Meltimi now shares the same fate as Copland, a scrapped platform.
Also, much like Copland, Meltimi’s user interface assets and other features have been scalped away to future versions of Series 40.
Symbian lives on in devices that cannot run Windows Phone, such as the Nokia 808 PureView, powered by the latest generation of Symbian, titled Nokia Belle. Despite past commitments to banish all non-Windows devices from the United States, the 808 PureView will be sold in the United States, much as the Nokia N9 was quietly rolled out over here.
Nokia’s plans to lay off Meltimi engineers will not happen immediately. Some will likely be reassigned, and Nokia appears to still be making good on its commitment to support the Nokia N9 “for years following its launch” – but Elop was unapologetic in today’s conference call, as originally reported by the Wall Street Journal.
The Qt platform however, will live on. Qt is a separate project from the Nokia phone development teams, and is on the consulting wing of the company. While Qt does not fit with Nokia’s Windows Phone efforts, as Qt is prohibited on Windows Phone, Qt may be more compatible with Windows 8 and future offerings from Microsoft. Also, Qt has widespread use in the developer community, and while Nokia won’t comment, is actually likely one of the few divisions at Nokia which is breaking even.
On the direction of Nokia, Elop had one befuddling comment: “We aren’t getting the traction we prefer.” Clearly, the death of Meltimi will win Nokia few new friends, to generate said traction, including all of us here at PhoneNews.com.