So Microsoft and Nokia just announced a deal. The good news is that MeeGo hasn't been canceled. The bad news is FOSS as a whole lost, again, big time.
Symbian was supposed to transition into MeeGo at the high end, with Qt creating a common environment for developers. If the strategy had been executed properly, MeeGo would have provided future excellence, backed by Symbian's huge market share. Developers would have been attracted in unprecedented numbers, and Android's head start would've been countered.
For FOSS, this would have meant Qt becoming the largest development environment on the planet, with easy ports of popular mobile programs to desktop Linux. Developers would have created and contributed to desktop programs. Most importantly, a full featured GNU/Linux platform would have started gaining huge market share, with the potential to transition upwards in form factors.
Would have. And don't blame Elop or Microsoft.
Now, the developers will learn Microsoft languages instead. Qt is still there, but Symbian will be phased out and Maemo will enter step 5 out of n+1.
I've already read rampant conspiracy theories about how this was Microsoft's and American investors' plan all along. People are also afraid Nokia will leave Finland. Well, if that happens, it'll take some guts to place the blame on Elop.
The N900 was released in 2009 and Nokia did not ship a single new device in that product line in 2010. Not a single. The Maemo project itself is much older than the iPhone. Nokia's R&D costs are much higher than Apple's, yet Symbian is still stagnating. Who are we kidding here? The staggering inefficiency had to stop.
This is not just another reorganization by Nokia, like all the previous shifts in strategy were. This move, even though it will once again put things back in square one, has one major difference: the core problem will be swept away through mass layoffs, with Microsoft picking up the slack.
That is the real, true motivation. Everything else is hand waving. Who else could have solved that problem for Nokia? Google didn't have the incentive, and internal solutions would have been internal.
The leaked memo supposedly written by Elop focused on issues that have been hot items in the press recently. However, I would like to offer one additional example I've been perplexed by for years. NFC.
NFC is going to enable all kinds of cool ways to interact with your environment, including mobile payments at stores. You may have heard about it recently in relation to rumors about Google and Apple forming ecosystems around it. What you may not know is that Nokia co-founded the NFC Forum in 2004.
It is now 2011, and Nokia has only released a couple of random NFC-capable devices without proper support for doing real things in real life. Instead of Nokia using its huge market share to push through a solution, it experimented here and there with as little money committed as possible. Apple and Google may soon be the world's biggest banks.
Think about that. And then realize that the problem never really was Symbian's rapid aging.
P.S. In case you caught the paradox in my opinion on NFC: Yes, Nokia spent ridiculous amounts of money on R&D while being extremely stingy on funding actual products that would have opened new markets. "Unbelievable." But new things are scary, aren't they?
P.P.S. As you can tell, my blog has been really quiet lately. I started it to blog about interesting developments regarding Maemo, but the previous half year has been devoid of any real news. I guess we just got some. Lets see what happens :(