Nokia presented the N9 this week. It looks pretty stunning, screen occupying the full face and a unibody shell made out of some scratch proof polycarbonate. The camera is said to be excellent, the screen is AMOLED, there’s NFC and 802.11N. MeeGo is built on the foundation of Maemo5 which despite not particularly pretty sucked in all the linux awesomeness.
Let’s have a closer look at the hardware. It’s basically a souped up N900, same Cortex A8 overclocked to 1GHz and same graphics chip. Why ? cause this phone was supposed to be released one year ago when it could still pull Nokia out of the death spiral.
Sure it has some nice bells and whistles like NFC but it’s not the earth rockin dual core A9 people expected.
On the software side we have Meego which seems snappy and inherits a lot of the expose like interface of Maemo 5. It has a fatal flow though, Qt. Nokia moved from S60, a C++ platform firmly rooted in the 90s to Qt, a C++ platform firmly rooted in the 90s. I have a long cultivated disdain for Qt which only grew with the rise of Gtk+ and then the lack of advance of Qt so I might not be the best person to pass judgment here. (The old) Nokia was more concerned with keeping whatever S60 developer community it had than reach a new and wide developer base so Qt with its Byzantine OO model was clearly the way to go for them. Meego will have some poor desktop apps ported over (like Maemo 5 had some poor Gtk+ apps poorly ported) and that’s it.
The N9 is a one off. It’s the only Meego product on the roadmap. You’re buying a dead product that won’t gather a developer community and won’t have any apps or long term maintenance. It’s like the N900, except worse. (The old) Nokia only announced discontinuing Maemo5 after the release of of N900, (the new) Nokia happily says Meego is a side project that’s not going anywhere.
Not only that but Meego is tainted by some last minute WindowsPhonification. The “swipe” thing is way to get users used to horizontal navigation, a steeping stone in Nokia’s plan. On the other side of the coin it’s highly unlikely Nokia Windows Phones will ever run Qt so the unification vision from 6 months ago is ruined.
I can see how Gruber is impressed with the N9 and I’m sure the design and Nokia brand will grant it some moderate success in the market place but in the long run it will be a fail.