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Nokia and Open Source — a Trial By Fire 205

Posted by Soulskill
from the roadmap-to-desperation dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The H has a damning piece on Nokia's open source smart phone projects, Maemo and MeeGo, and why they failed. 'They did dumb stuff like re-writing the whole networking stack, duplicating as they went. So instead of re-using NetworkManager and improving it, and getting to market fast – they re-wrote, got something that still doesn't work well, failed to push Linux forward, and failed. Repeat that for every technology pick and you get the idea,' said Andrew Wafaa. 'The N900 was a great product. Immediately [after] it was launched it was announced that it was a dead product, ISV-wise. They announced a Qt re-write/project re-set. Then they merged Maemo into MeeGo, giving another project re-set. Then, when they were coming up to release in September 2010, there was another project reset to switch to a different Qt technology (even the Qt groups in-fight in Nokia). In consequence they have no shipping product.' At the same time, 'both Nokia and Intel were working on separate handset UIs using Qt, the former proprietary, the latter open-source. A better worked example of squandering your leadership role and wrestling yourself to the ground is hard to see. Nokia deserve their trial by fire – and I hope the people who truly screwed up the amazing Linux opportunity that was the N900 get shut down in the process.'"
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Nokia and Open Source — a Trial By Fire

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  • by wombatmobile (623057) on Friday February 25, 2011 @12:43PM (#35313148)
    Nokia's former CEO, a lawyer, failed to notice the product groups were in such disarray. How cool must his job have been? He got to fly around the world in his suit spending money, while his product guys are achieving nothing for years, and he didn't even notice!
    • by thijsh (910751) on Friday February 25, 2011 @12:54PM (#35313244) Journal

      He got to fly around the world in his suit spending money!

      He was Super-Lawyer???

  • by PickyH3D (680158) on Friday February 25, 2011 @12:45PM (#35313174)

    Now the in-fighting cannot frequently cripple development of other projects.

    Makes me feel a lot less bad for the Nokia employees that walked out. Although likely moving at the whims of management, this report makes them sound more like hobbyists that simply want to build their own and tinker, rather than shipping a good product.

    It certainly makes a good case for replacing a lot of the management as well. If employees end up leaving as a result, then they probably weren't great employees anyway, or they did not understand the problems that they were causing to their own development cycle by diligently following those managers out the door.

    • by oakgrove (845019)

      Sounds like moving to a third party OS was smart

      Yeah, smart in contrast to the disaster that the submission is highlighting. Somehow, I have to think there might have been a third option in there somewhere...

      • by Sir_Sri (199544)

        By now the 3rd option, of completely reforming your internal structure was too late. They're too far behind in the smartphone wave to internally restructure, then launch a new mobile platform.

        One can certainly disagree with their choice of MS as the 3rd party OS, but I think given the circumstances it was pick one of MS or Google, or be facing serious problems in 2 or 3 years. That mountain of cash MS has might help them out for a bit.

        • by oakgrove (845019) on Friday February 25, 2011 @01:15PM (#35313506)

          That mountain of cash MS has might help them out for a bit.

          Yeah, I'm sure that didn't hurt too many people in upper management's feelings. Only time will tell if it will be worth it in the long run for the shareholders. Windows Phone 7 is extremely speculative at this point. So far, it little more than an also-ran and that doesn't appear to be on any trajectory for change any time soon. Characterizing it as the "third choice" in the grand scheme of mobile OS's as it is in a lot of the media is just pure dishonesty. I'm sure RIM might have something to say about that.

        • I think it would have been interesting for them to see what they could do with WebOS and HP. I wonder if that was even discussed?

          • Is HP Licensing WebOS? I go the impression they wanted it internally so they could make iPhonesqe, "we control the software and the hardware" devices. At the very least I'd expect HP to charge licensing fees for WebOS; as opposed to MS who were willing to go the other way and pay Nokia, or Android which would have been free.

          • by AmbushBug (71207)

            I was wondering that too. I think Nokia and HP should have made a deal to put WebOS on Nokia's phones. This would be good for both companies. It would have instantly created a huge market for WebOS apps and created a real viable alternative to iOS and Android. I highly doubt HP on their own will be able to make much of a dent in the current market.

            [OT: What's with the double/triple spacing of the comment text?]

      • by aliquis (678370)

        Four options, all would probably had been better than Windows Phone 7:

        1) Keep on developing MeeGo if they think it's better than Android. Throw in Alien Dalvik, get access to the "eco-system" of Android.
        2) Probably better in the current market: Switch to Android base, slap QT on it, port whatever MeeGo applications they had already made over to Android. Sell. Would work both with Android applications for everyone who want to and not abandon QT or QT developers.

        3) Buy or co-develop a new OS with RIMM. I've r

    • > If employees end up leaving as a result, then they probably weren't great employees anyway
      Yes, all the rats who are abandoning the ship are clearly unfit.

      • by PickyH3D (680158)

        Read to the end of the sentence next time.

        ... by diligently following those managers out the door.

        People are clearly free to disagree with the course that the company is taking, and then find a different job. But, if they are doing so because they are following the managers--who will inevitably be let go--making these bad decisions, then they are just as bad for it.

    • by segedunum (883035) on Friday February 25, 2011 @01:23PM (#35313602)
      Moving to a third-party OS you have no control over is never smart. If history should teach us anything it's that those who give up control of their platform end up dead by the side of the road somewhere. The only right option is to man up and whip the company into shape.
      • by PickyH3D (680158) on Friday February 25, 2011 @01:46PM (#35313990)

        HTC, Motorola and Samsung are doing terribly these days.

        • by segedunum (883035) on Friday February 25, 2011 @02:20PM (#35314542)
          I wasn't aware they had their own platforms that they rely on for their current market share like Nokia do.
          • by Homburg (213427)

            Does Nokia rely on their platform for their market share, though? Do people really buy Nokia phones because of Symbian or, even more so, because of whatever Nokia's feature-phone platform is called? Nokia's market share, I think, is largely due to their reputation for well-designed phones (a reputation they've been squandering for years), not because of their platform.

      • Depends on the goal. I think the goal of going with Microsoft now is to become a tempting acquisition target. Nokia's market cap is only about 15% of Microsofts, and I suspect that management wants a take-over bid. If Nokia demonstrates the ability to produce good Windows Phone 7 phones, Microsoft will end up buying them (or, at least, their phone division - they also do some other stuff) and making them into the hardware arm for phones.
      • It's as if MS is trying to gain the same position they had with IBM PC compatibles. They think the same strategy will work for them again. And if there is anything to be learned from that, the hardware manufacturers were marginalized with Windows.

        I hope that's not the case. I would like to see a competitive environment with good interoperability between competing systems instead of the monopoly and vendor lock-in based strategies of the last 20 years. Which, BTW, I'm convinced has severely hindered pr

    • by Weezul (52464)

      Isn't Microsloft famous for infighting killing their good projects and their partners?

    • by gbjbaanb (229885) on Friday February 25, 2011 @02:22PM (#35314582)

      have they moved to Android then? 'cos you cannot mean Microsoft - the company famous for infighting between teams. The Kin was shut down because it was in competition with Windows Phone team, and really - if you want a good laugh, read this blog piece [blogspot.com] about putting the shutdown menu into Vista.

      Now, when you consider that one of the options available to Nokia in taking Windows Phone 7 was that their teams get to work on the WP7 code and customise or improve it you begin to understand just what a total, epic, unmitigated, colossal fail WP7 is soon to be (not that its been a roaring success so far!)

    • The entire problem was in management and a complete lack of leadership. The employees do not get to pick what to work on, in-fighting is completely absurd in this context. Decide on a platform and a language, use your employee input to make that decision, get it all out in the open. Then make the decision and tell the developers to get to work. The ones who supported the losing side may grumble, that's expected, but if they try to undermine the decision after it's been made, get rid of them. The complet

  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Friday February 25, 2011 @12:47PM (#35313186) Homepage Journal

    That is Nokia's big problem IMHO. The US has the biggest GNP of any single nation. It is a large unified market and it is just dumb to ignore it. Nokia didn't adapt the the US model by working with carriers to offer subsidized smart phones and didn't offer CDMA smart phones. Way back when Sprint had no really interesting smart phones I would have jumped on a Nokia smart phone. Now we have Android, IOS, WebOS, RIM, and WP7. I just got an EVO 4g but I would have bought the N900 if I could have for the same price and on Sprint.
    Nokia believed that it could live marketing to the rest of the world and it did for a good while. Thing is all the new smart phone OSs are coming from North America.

    • by Sir_Sri (199544) on Friday February 25, 2011 @01:12PM (#35313462)

      That was Steve Jobs great brilliance. Nokia wasn't going to to play the crappy network game, and basically gave up on the north american carriers as worthless, incompetent, and not worth dealing with.

      So Steve Jobs comes along, releases a device that, at launch, was inferior to Nokia's offerings, and was saddled by an outdated network. But suddenly people could see the potential in their phones, if only they had a decent network, and a decent OS. Nokia had (for the time) a decent OS, but no connection to the network, and by the time the network was getting fixed Apple had used off the money they generated to actually build a decent OS. Now you have RIM, Google and Apple all devouring marketspace that in the rest of the world was basically owned by Nokia, because they didn't catch up on innovation.

      Don't get me wrong, I'm not a huge fan of Steve Jobs or a lot of the nonsense he pulls, but credit where credit is due, he forced the antiquated network providers in the US and Canada to start pulling their heads out of their asses. That should have been done by Jim Balsillie or Mike Lazaridis of RIM, but they didn't get it.

      And now we have phones that are basically computers that can make phone calls. Nokia understood the phones that can do other stuff model, but it doesn't get computers that can make phone calls, and RIM is in the same boat. MS, Apple and Google all get it, it's a matter of how well they can execute and any number of other factors for them.

      • but it doesn't get computers that can make phone calls

        They got it better than anyone else, but only after it was basically too late.

      • by Mr Z (6791) on Friday February 25, 2011 @02:27PM (#35314656) Homepage Journal

        It's almost like Nokia is the Commodore of the phone market. The Amiga took off in Europe but not so much in North America, where they kept pushing the Commodore 64-derived stuff. The Amiga had its fanboys here, but it never established a huge presence. Meanwhile, the Mac, which was technically inferior in nearly every way to the Amiga for quite a long time, took off. By the early 90s, I saw plenty of Macs, but only ever saw one Amiga in person. Its owner even showed off how it could emulate a Mac and run faster than a native Mac at the same clock rate would run. Technical superiority didn't matter, though.

        Yes, it's not a perfect parallel, and Nokia's specific problems are certainly different than Commodore's. But lack of focus behind the cutting edge platform dogged them both.

        I remember the joke at the time that if Commodore tried to sell sushi, they'd market it as "cold, dead fish." Kinda reminds me of how Nokia pushed Maemo.

      • by thsths (31372)

        > Nokia wasn't going to to play the crappy network game, and basically gave up on the north american carriers as worthless, incompetent, and not worth dealing with.

        Well, they got two out of three there :-). But US customers still pay one of the highest phone bills in the world, and that is a market you cannot ignore.

      • by sarhjinian (94086) on Friday February 25, 2011 @03:36PM (#35315732)

        So Steve Jobs comes along, releases a device that, at launch, was inferior to Nokia's offerings, and was saddled by an outdated network

        Well, there was the little issue of, you know, the user interface. The iPhone did show you what you could do with your phone, and it did it by not being completely irritating to use the way Symbian, Windows Mobile or BBOS were. Sure, it didn't have a 8 megapixel camera, or a hardware keyboard, or better-than-EDGE networking. But it turns out that people didn't really want those things: they wanted a phone that didn't suck to use.

        I remember when the iPhone came out. I was working with Windows Mobile devices, mostly, at the time but did have some experience with Symbian and used a BB day-in-day-out and Apple's device didn't just move the goalposts on user experience, it changed the game. RIM you can excuse because they never pretended to make anything other than a perfect email device, but Microsoft and Nokia were either shamelessly arrogant or grossly incompetent in sticking with their completely-broken systems for so long.

        I remember getting a new N86 8MP new when I dunked my E71. Compared to my partner's first-gen iPhone it was better in every way, except when it came to actually using it, and that was years after the iPhone debuted. Someone at Nokia should have figured that out the day Apple's device came out because there was no excuse for the N86 or N97 sucking as badly as they did. And no, the half-baked, orphaned-at-launch N900 was not the answer.

    • by Carewolf (581105)

      I don't think they ignored the US market. The story I've heard was that they pissed of all the carriers back in the 1990s by rejecting to deliberately criple their phones. They have since warmed up and produced the cripled phones necessary for the US market, but the carriers still doesn't like them.

    • Pretty much constantly.

      Their phones are already subsidised everywhere, and the US market isn't unified. It's owned by the carriers who have carved it up into fiefdoms, you can't be exclusive with them all.

      They also totally missed the boat with touch screens. Even now, the touch screen phones don't quite match up with the iPhone. That may be a cultural thing, Europeans are less "consumers" than Americans, so keyboards matter.
       

      • by LWATCDR (28044)

        The US market is unfied in that there is one language, one currency, and one set of regulations to deal with. And you only have four major carriers to deal with.

    • The US has the biggest GNP of any single nation.

      True, the European Union currently is a confederation, much like the United States was until it became a federal republic in the late 1780s. But that can easily change at the next round of treaty negotiations after Lisbon.

      Nokia didn't adapt the the US model by working with carriers to offer subsidized smart phones

      Carriers didn't adapt to the sensible model by working with Nokia to offer smart subsidized phones. Carriers wanted to dumb them down so that they could nickel-and-dime subscribers.

  • I'd hope that they don't screw it up further by throwing out the QWERTY slider form factor. Failing that, I would only hope that a keyboard can be hacked on to address such a deficiency.

    An onscreen keyboard not only takes up screen space, it also is worse off versus an actual keyboard. That, and the hinge is fine enough on the N900 to transfer to the N950.

  • by blindbat (189141) on Friday February 25, 2011 @12:55PM (#35313256)
    It didn't take seeing all this happening with the N900. I had a N800 and developed for it and saw that stuff then. That's when I bailed to iOS. At least with that you had some OS maturity and a platform that knew where it was going. I liked the N800--an open linux *computer* for my pocket. But the disarray of Nokia...
    • From a relatively free Maemo platform to a walled garden is not an improvement. That, and unlike the iDevices, you can do all the things that Apple decrees that you cannot do and have all the things that Apple decrees that you shall not have.

      Some of the things you're missing:

      Non-carrier dependent tethering
      Out-of-the-box root access
      A mature, true-to-form Linux stack
      OS upgrades that dont obliterate your personal data
      Integrated QWERTY keyboard
      Removable / expandable internal batteries
      A standard USB connector
      No

      • Yep those were the good ol' days. RIP, openness on mobile devices.

      • From a relatively free Maemo platform to a walled garden is not an improvement.

        I'm not going to speak for the parent here, however, going from Maemo to iOS is a huge improvement if you're trying to pay the bills with your work on that particular platform.

      • Non-carrier dependent tethering

        A nice to have, but not something I miss. I stopped carrying my laptop with me becasue I can do almost everything I need to on my phone.

        Out-of-the-box root access

        I see this offered as something iOS and many Android phones lack, but really why do I per se want it? Root access is a tool, not a feature in an of itself. If I can do sufficient customization and installation without it to make me happy, it's a tool I don't need. All root access gives me intrinsically is the ability to look at a # prompt instead of a $ prompt. Otherwi

        • by tepples (727027)

          All root access gives me intrinsically is the ability to look at a # prompt instead of a $ prompt.

          That and install apps if your carrier has locked down /home to be noexec.

          I stopped carrying my laptop with me becasue I can do almost everything I need to on my phone.

          I do things on a laptop that Apple expressly prohibits applications from doing on an iPhone.

      • by tjb (226873)

        Out of those things, I have never had iPhone upgrade blow away personal data and the iPhone4 has a removable battery (plus you can buy battery extenders that attach via the dock interface, which is fine if you really need more battery life)

        The QWERTY keyboard is a ridiculous item - a good touchscreen keyboard is way better than tiny-chiclet-key physical keyboards after a month or two of practice.

        I'll give you tethering, but that's a US carrier limitation, not an iPhone limitation per-se.

        The other stuff is j

        • The QWERTY keyboard is a ridiculous item - a good touchscreen keyboard is way better than tiny-chiclet-key physical keyboards after a month or two of practice.

          Physical buttons are better for gaming, for one. At least with the chiclets, you can tell which keys your thumbs are over.

          You can run a company catering to that 1% but not a company the size of Nokia.

          But can you run a company catering to twelve different groups of 1%?

      • by tepples (727027)

        Non-carrier dependent tethering

        Watch the carrier automatically upgrade your data plan from "handheld" service level to more expensive "PC" service level if it catches you doing this.

        A standard USB connector

        A lot of new Android phones have standard micro-USB, in part due to one government's standardization on this connector.

  • I think Nokia's Elop now has what is known as buyer's remorse. [wikipedia.org]

    Here's the most troubling starememt from Nokia's Inverstors page [nokia.com]

    "Nokia and Microsoft have entered into a non-binding term sheet. The planned partnership remains subject to negotiations and execution of the definitive agreements by the parties and there can be no assurances that the definitive agreements would be entered into".

    (Emphasis mine).

    On the whole, Microsoft has a probable benefit. For Nokia on the other hand, I am not so sure given Microsoft's past.

    Should Nokia fail to dance to Microsoft's tune, Microsoft will drop it like a plague leaving Nokia holding the bag. At that point, it will be 'over' for Nokia in the smart-phone space. Sad indeed.

    • by Animats (122034)

      "Nokia and Microsoft have entered into a non-binding term sheet. The planned partnership remains subject to negotiations and execution of the definitive agreements by the parties and there can be no assurances that the definitive agreements would be entered into".

      That's normal. About half of announced major business deals don't close.

    • by PickyH3D (680158)

      That statement simply means that it has not been finalized. Hence it's still a "planned" partnership. There are a lot of lawyers on both sides making sure that their side "wins."

  • by Max Romantschuk (132276) <max@romantschuk.fi> on Friday February 25, 2011 @01:08PM (#35313408) Homepage

    It's weird how many engineers fall into the trap of trying too much when settling for good enough would be the right solution. You can always improve stuff in the next version, even if part of the code is ugly. I think the Hurd project has shown how well it works when you insist on getting it "just right".

    There are exceptions (Blizzard for example), but often Good Enough is just what you need. Especially with OSS, where the user base doubles as QA and a feedback channel for new ideas.

    • by Americano (920576)

      Am I misreading this, or are you suggesting Blizzard only releases when it's "just right"? Because I've seen a lot of patch notes and hotfixes that would suggest otherwise. :)

      • I'm pretty sure that the GP's point was the opposite: that Blizzard releases a lot of stuff that's "good enough" and irons out the wrinkles as they go.
        • by Nemyst (1383049)

          No, the GP is referring to Blizzard's "when it's done" release mentality. They're one of the very few game devs that take as long as they think necessary to make a product. Whether you think it sucks or not is besides the point.

          However, Blizzard is in the extremely rare situation of being developer and publisher with boatloads of money to sit on. They also have somewhat of an Apple effect in that whatever they do will get eaten up whole by legions of rabid fans, whether the game is good or not.

          • No, the GP is referring to Blizzard's "when it's done" release mentality. They're one of the very few game devs that take as long as they think necessary to make a product. Whether you think it sucks or not is besides the point.

            Yes, this is what I was referring to. I have no experience with WoW, but from what I've seen of the development of Starcraft II and Diablo III Blizzard seems to have the ability to tweak their code a long time and still deliver.

            • by Americano (920576)

              Maybe that's the difference - most of my experience with Blizzard's games is with WoW, and that game is most assuredly released in a "good enough for government work" fashion, with further tuning and refinements made frequently via hotfix & small patches. And to be clear, I'm not criticizing that practice, I agree that "good enough" is generally more desirable because it helps eliminate feature creep and actually gets the product out the door. I just was asking because if you asked me to name a develo

  • by strangeattraction (1058568) on Friday February 25, 2011 @01:09PM (#35313420)
    HEADLINE: The two kids that couldn't get dates to the prom decide to dance together. RESET one more time.
  • Did George Broussard go to work for Nokia or something?

  • and I hope the people who truly screwed up the amazing Linux opportunity that was the N900 get shut down in the process.'"

    That is not how it works. The people responsible for this mess will blame Linux and tell it's not ready for "prime time" and go with Microsoft's Windows Mobile instead.

  • by NitroWolf (72977) on Friday February 25, 2011 @01:27PM (#35313686)

    I gave up on Nokia back in the mid 1990's. Their phones always seemed like they would be awesome on paper, and then when you actually tried to use them you realized what a giant piece of shit they are. It wasn't because the phone was a piece of shit, though, like you usually find with products that look good on paper - the phones hardware is solid. It's the UI. Nokia has never been able to develop a usable UI. This was true in the 90's and several years ago when the N95 was the rage, I figured they'd had time to fix their mistakes. I bought an N95. Again, the hardware was awesome, but guess what? The UI was total garbage.

    Nokia simply can't develop a UI that people want to use. In the 90's, long before smart phones, the UI was simply too slow. I literally had the problem of dialing too fast on Nokia phones. The UI couldn't even keep up with dialing a phone number. In the late 2000's, again the UI couldn't keep up with input, but add in the quasi-featurephone/smartphone hybrid that is Symbian and you have a graphically intensive, slow UI that is cumbersome to use. Another recipe for disaster.

    I wish Nokia would pull their head out of their asses and take a step back to assess the fact that they have nothing to offer in terms of quality when it comes to the software end of things. Everything they have been doing up to know is complete fail; they need to realize this and look at successful software applications. Android, iOS and yes, possibly even WP7. Their new alliance with Microsoft is a step in the right direction, but it probably wasn't the best choice. Nokia could have dug themselves out of the giant hole they are in by going with Android (since I doubt even they could license iOS), simply, easily and quickly. Then again, they may feel the need to modify Android so much and re-write whatever they can that they'd make a mess of that, too. So perhaps the stern hand of Microsoft might let them put out a phone that's actually usable. Time will tell.

  • by orlanz (882574) on Friday February 25, 2011 @01:33PM (#35313780)

    So I got a N900 a year ago. My first Nokia phone (I was a Sony man before). It was and is almost exactly what I am looking for. I was even impressed by the way Nokia did the whole repository thing. I am basically a PM. And as I looked into the processes that Nokia employeed, I slowly became disappointed.

    They had initiatives for :
    - code refactoring for better UI/responsiveness
    - Meemo to Meego migration
    - Ovi Suite
    - Better front camera software stack
    - Qt in the works
    - voice recognization
    - Android compatibility
    - etc.

    What I see are a lot of "initiatives" but no project plans or defined deliverables. It just seemed to me that there was no direction or focus. The second something became almost, it's direction changed. I don't mean to be rude, but this is what in-experienced programmers do. I am not talking about good/bad programmers, but about immature/mature programmers. Mature programmers are the guys who also write the good help docs & APIs along with the code. In-experienced programmers reinvent wheels, lose focus on the big picture, and get too much into their super optimized code. And I am not placing the blame on them, but rather the PMs. It is their duty to notice this, put them back on the correct path, and keep the big picture in mind. It is the PM's duty to define and focus on the deliverables. They need to make sure they aren't wasting time on useless optimizations that give you 50% gain a module, but a meer 1% in the overall process.

    Going with Microsoft may give Nokia the ability to quickly draw a common big picture, but it does really nothing to address the issues underneath. Even within that big picture, the issues will just resurface and you will end up like you did with the N900. I really like the N900, but it can be so much better. Before this whole Microsoft thing, I was going to buy another N900 and was recommending it to 2 others in my office as PDAs. But after almost convincing my wife to buy my phone, I dropped it at the last minute. Along with my recommendations in the office environment. A good product is more than just hardware or even software, and I don't think Nokia gets it.

    • by jlowery (47102)

      It's not only optimizations that an immature software process will get bogged down in (optimization increases complexity, for sure); but the tendency to be enamoured by the current fad development stack (as noted in the article) because it will somehow magically make all the cruft built into their current stack go away. It's like calling 'do-overs' instead of going back and working in the small to make incremental simplifications of process, configuration, data models, and api. That's just too unsexy for

    • Going with Microsoft may give Nokia the ability to quickly draw a common big picture, but it does really nothing to address the issues underneath.

      I have a N800, and was looking forward to buying a N900. Then I saw the news about Maemo -> Meego. And then the news that Ari Jaaksi was leaving Nokia . . . well, that put it down for me.

    • Agree with above. Got my N900 almost a year ago. It's a love-hate relationship.

      The N900 is unique; there's nothing else like it. I have to have it. [1]

      Having said that, the UI is just crap. To be more specific, there are so many ways in which a little effort would have enhanced the user experience so significantly, but this effort was not made. It gives the whole feeling of the software having been rushed to market.

      In short, I hate my N900 that I need. The moment someone else comes out with a Linux ph

  • My takeaway (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iluvcapra (782887) on Friday February 25, 2011 @01:34PM (#35313800)

    Every other story in TFA basically goes like this: "Our platform started on X, and then we changed it to Y, using Z UI library but the developers from Y used some of their own." As far as MeeGo and Moblin go, there didn't seem to be any attention to creating the minimum specification and just choosing what they were going to support and refine.

    Nokia seemed to have completely outsourced their technology strategy to their open-source community process, and things stagnated over the sort of squabbles people in OSS know and love. Unlike Apple or Google, which took off-the-shelf OSS software that the community had written, made it their own and now act as BDFLs for their own brands and make their money off supporting and extending the OSS core; Nokia did the exact opposite, putting a ton of effort into reduplicating OS work, and then leaving support and extension to the community. It seems like their community process was completely dysfunctional and nobody working on MeeGo ever knew where the platform was going next. Nokia and Intel were very tight-lipped, so the people in the community would do their own thing and the platform would drift and work would be done on all kinds of stuff that didn't benefit Nokia. And then Nokia would come in one day and drop Gtk. You don't see the sort of high-level coordination that Google nominally does through the OHA, and you don't see the sort of commitment Apple makes to promoting their platform to end-users and keeping the platform as consistent as possible.

    Open Source is good for a lot of things. People can write your software for you! But Nokia seemed to have the idea that if they just kickstarted an OSS phone OS, they could just sell handsets and the software platform would take care of itself with magic bazaar pixie dust, while assuming that at any time they could completely drop or add whatever technology they chose and the community would go along for the ride.

    • by Microlith (54737)

      As far as MeeGo and Moblin go, there didn't seem to be any attention to creating the minimum specification and just choosing what they were going to support and refine.

      MeeGo is that minimum specification. From all indications, it'll hit 1.2 in April and the compliance spec will be settled before then. Nokia wasn't patient enough (or competent enough) to stick with it.

      things stagnated over the sort of squabbles people in OSS know and love.

      Nokia's problems were entirely internal. Progress on MeeGo has been qu

  • Maemo and Meego did not fail. Its just that Android succeeded better.

  • by xnpu (963139) on Friday February 25, 2011 @01:46PM (#35314002)

    Fujitsu has released a MeeGo netbook and I'm sure more will follow. MeeGo isn't just Nokia.

    • Fujitsu has released a MeeGo netbook and I'm sure more will follow. MeeGo isn't just Nokia.

      Yes, but it would be nice to see a telephone manufacturer to bring out MeeGo phones.

  • The rewrite of Firefox as told by Spoksly [joelonsoftware.com] - features never solidifying and nothing ever shipping. To show it's not an open source thing, the whole MacOSX post System7 Taligent/Pink/Copeland fiasco.

  • Looking at their netbook, a fine fanless piece and pretty much the MiniMacBook that never was, from http://discussions.europe.nokia.com/t5/Mini-Laptops/bd-p/minilaptops [nokia.com] it seems they ruined that by (besides a debatable display) shipping with Windows 7 Starter (of all OSes) on a mere Gig of non-upgradable RAM - neither their own nor any other Linux (all of which, and even MacOS someone made work), nor even XP.
  • Nokia sat on their backsides for far too long thinking that it was good enough just to be mobile phone company, rather than looking at the wider picture with smartphones and preparing to compete with Apple and Android. They did nothing with Symbian to give it a similar interface to iOS and Android.

    Obviously, they couldn't use iOS on their smartphones, had they picked Android then the Nokia name would have been lost amongst the myriad of other companies making Android phones.

    So there was Microsoft looking fo

  • by Eil (82413) on Friday February 25, 2011 @03:21PM (#35315544) Homepage Journal

    I bought an N800 a few years back because it was most portable and semi-capable Linux-based computer at the time. It did many things very well, but it did the important things (web browser, video, email) poorly.

    My biggest gripe was that, after the device was sold and the necessary source code released, there was really nothing in the way of community help from Nokia. The firmware and applications were developed in secret and released infrequently. There was an official website, but community-hosted forums were where the real action was happening. And aside from a kludgy SDK, there was little help for third-party developers.

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