Nokia are back in the news with a bang, and finally for the only reason a handset manufacturer should care about – a brand new mobile phone.
Stunningly, the new phone in question is the Nokia N9, the MeeGo smartphone that had been killed off after Nokia’s dramatic alliance with Microsoft and its Windows Phone 7 OS earlier this year.
We knew the N9 was almost production-ready, but after Nokia turned its back on MeeGo and the N9 was canned, we never thought it would see the light of day.
So what’s Nokia up to? When will the N9 (or Nokia N950 as it might be rebranded) be released? And just what does this mean for the Nokia/Microsoft alliance?
The Nokia N9/N950 rumours
The Nokia N9 is a MeeGo-based smartphone with a user interface and user experience that’s different from any other Nokia smartphone – which is a good thing!
Originally hailed as the saviour of Nokia, it was killed off when it was realised that it clearly wouldn’t be, and that it didn’t fit into Nokia’s future plans of bending over and taking all that Microsoft could merrily pump into its corpulent buttocks (not a pleasant thought, but an accurate one, as many of the thousands of Nokia employees made redundant by this “not-a-takeover” takeover will confirm).
And now it’s back. It’s been submitted to the US’s FCC for approval for sale, and the latest rumour has it that will be given out for free at the increasingly irrelevant MeeGo developer’s conference on May 23rd – 25th, before going on sale a few months after that.
This may seem a little unlikely, but the rumour has one giant fact to back it up – this marketing video!
Why is Nokia releasing the N9?
So what’s going on? Why is Nokia choosing to release the N9 now? Here are three possible reasons:
1. The “It’s better than doing nothing” option
Nokia is working furiously on getting new Windows Phone 7 devices out of the door, but they won’t be ready until early 2012. This leaves the company with an already dated line of existing phones and no new phones to ship in the meantime. Worse, it’s losing market share hand over fist, with Samsung overtaking it as the number one handset manufacturer in Western markets.
Clearly the company had to do something!
And so it looked in its parts bin, saw an unwanted Nokia N9 sat there, all ready to go, and thought “sod it – let’s sell the thing! What’s the worst that could happen?!”
2. The “Screw Microsoft” option!
Microsoft is now rumoured to be looking at buying Nokia’s handset unit completely, making thousands more developers redundant, and leaving the Finnish company as a services- and network-focused company that makes no handset devices at all.
This, naturally, will be upsetting a lot of people who still work there!
To show Microsoft just how dumb an idea this is, the N9 team is releasing the phone as a final flourish, a last hurrah that shows the world what could have been, and which puts down a benchmark of pure Nokia phones that the new Microsoft-Nokia Windows Phone 7 devices will have to beat.
It’s a romantic vision of backs-to-the-wall cameraderie that can only end in farce! The reason Nokia ended the way it did is that its smartphones just aren’t any good. The Nokia N9 was developed in 2010 – it’s unlikely to compete with 2011 Androids and iPhones.
3. The “What’s all this Microsoft talk?” option
One reason Nokia fell arse-first into the welcome thrusting of Microsoft is that the company completely lost sight of the market, its customers – and itself, with parts of the company not having a clue what other parts were doing.
So it would be no surprise if the N9 team were completely unaware of Nokia’s alliance with Microsoft, had no idea that Windows Phone 7 is the future strategy, and so are just releasing the N9 as they always planned to!
My own guess is that option 1 is more likely, but knowing the ups and downs of Nokia these past few years, option 3 wouldn’t surprise me either!
Whatever the reason, at least we’ll finally get to see a real live MeeGo device in action. I think it’s then that reality will finally set in for the MeeGo and Nokia die-hards who will hopefully realise that MeeGo and the Nokia N9 really weren’t the company’s salvation.