Is Nokia flogging a dead horse with the N9?

Melissa Chua
08/09/2011
News
Commentary

Nokia has launched its Meego-based N9 smartphone, which was first announced during CommunicAsia 2011 in June.

The N9 sports superb hardware – a polycarbonate casing, 3.9-inch scratch-resistant AMOLED screen, an 8-megapixel Carl Zeiss camera, HD video capture and is also NFC capable. The device also features an unusual all-screen user interface with the regular home key replaced by a simple swipe gesture.

It was, however, not the device’s features or specifications that took the spotlight at the event’s launch, but its Meego platform. The N9 is Nokia’s maiden device featuring this platform, a collaboration between Nokia and Intel announced at last year’s Mobile World Congress.

Questions instead centered around how the Finnish manufacturer intended to engage developers for MeeGo, given how Nokia was already managing Symbian and Windows Phone 7. Nokia’s response was a repeat of the firm’s party line: The N9 had been built on the Qt (pronounced ‘cute’) framework, which was capable of being ported over to Symbian and future Nokia devices.

Qt is glaringly incompatible with the Windows Phone 7 OS, and GM for Nokia Singapore and Brunei Vlasta Berka said Nokia had yet to reach an agreement with Microsoft regarding the issue. Microsoft’s portfolio comprised desktop and mobile OSes, and caution had to be taken to prevent fragmenting of the ecosystem, Berka said.

Doubts were also raised as to the device’s targeted audience. Nokia’s marketing head for Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei Antony Wilson said the N9 was intended for an audience segment keen on trying ‘new’ and’ innovative’ products because the market was currently filled with similar smartphones. Wilson claimed the Singapore market was a prime bed for the N9 because the ‘ability to stand out’ would resonate with the local consumer.

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