updated 08:25 am EDT, Wed August 26, 2009
Nokia Maemo to Beat iPhone
Nokia is planning to dump Symbian for Linux as part of a concerted strategy to beat the iPhone, multiple sources said Wednesday. While the tips echo reports of the N900 using Maemo Linux for its interface instead of Symbian S60, Reuters now hears the shift is part of a larger strategy that will replace Symbian on many if not all high-end Nokia smartphones in the near future. The first fruits of the move are anticipated at next week's Nokia World show.
Support for the rumor may come from the increasingly likely specs for the N900. It shares nearly all the features of the slow-selling N97, including the screen size, camera and 32GB of storage, and so far only really differs through a different OS and a slightly different design.
The choice of Maemo is a potentially dramatic one but is thought by analysts to be better for touchscreen devices. As Linux is more customizable, it's more readily adapted to touch input than Symbian, which was originally designed for keypads and has had touch only grafted on through S60 5th Edition. Maemo by contrast has been used for years on Nokia's Internet tablets and supports a combination of touchscreen and button controls.
Any drastic change is expected to be a reaction to Nokia's sliding market share in the smartphone arena. It still has a comfortable lead but has regularly lost credibility as a dearth of touchscreen phones and strong messaging phones has conceded territory to Apple and Research in Motion. The 5800 XpressMusic has sold relatively well due to its lower price but has had some of its advantage negated by the cheaper 8GB iPhone 3G.
Symbian itself could be hurt by losing Nokia's high end sales and faces exterior pressure from Android, which like Maemo is also Linux-based and is now finding its place on high-end Samsung phones where Symbian had been the main platform of choice even in the recent past.