Fresh from dumping MeeGo, Nokia is now developing another Linux-based platform for low-end smartphones
As Nokia prepares to introduce its first high-end smartphones based on Microsoft’s Windows Phone software, the company is also developing a new Linux-based system for low-end handsets, according to a report.
The new system is code-named Meltemi, after strong summer winds that blow in the Aegean Sea, and the development effort is headed by Mary McDowell, Nokia’s executive vice president for mobile phones, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal citing unnamed sources.
Series 40 replacement?
The Meltemi effort appears to be a successor to software such as Series 40, which Nokia has used to run on feature phones and low-end smartphones in the past, while Nokia’s higher-end handsets have used the Symbian OS.
Nokia’s other high-profile Linux effort was Maemo, which began development in 2003 and was initially aimed at tablets and other devices, to complement Symbian. Nokia later shifted its strategy to aim Maemo at smartphones, and in 2010 combined its Linux efforts with Intel to create the MeeGo platform.
February’s announcement of Nokia’s shift to Windows Phone effectively ended the MeeGo commitment on Nokia’s part. Intel theoretically remained committed to MeeGo until last week, when it said it would begin focusing on a new operating system called Tizen.
Nokia’s high-end N9 smartphone, which began shipping last week, will be the company’s only MeeGo device.
The new OS effort reflects the increasing importance of the market for lower-end smartphones, sometimes called feature phones. In Western Europe and other areas the market for lower-end smartphones is growing faster than the high end, according to researchers IDC, which expects the low-end to become the dominant smartphone market segment.
Developing countries are also a key market for low-end smartphones. The importance of this area of the market is so great that Apple may even introduce a lower-cost iPhone alongside the iPhone 5 this week.
Nokia may publicly launch Meltemi at its Nokia World conference in London at the end of this month, according to some reports.