So the big news out of Mobile World Congress today is that Nokia is effectively killing its Maemo OS, moving forward instead with a Qt-based derivative of Intel’s Moblin project, to be known as MeeGo.
The good news is that it will likely make future Nokia Internet tablets much more user-friendly. It might also give Nokia an opportunity to manufacture other connected devices, like an in-vehicle infotainment system, for example.
But the bad news is two-fold as well.
First, it makes Nokia’s N900 instantly obsolete unsellable (see first comment below) — or a collector’s item, if you’re an optimist.
More importantly, Maemo’s multiple home screens and such will likely be replaced with something like this, Moblin’s current desktop:
Oh, it’s user-friendly, to be sure… And to a fault.
You’ll notice that there’s no visible file browser, for starters — that’s actually buried in the applications menu, a couple of levels deep. And though this pic was grabbed from a 1024 x 600 pixel netbook screen, all that unused white space speaks to me of trouble ahead.
Sure enough, here’s Moblin’s ease of use in action. I couldn’t get my netbook to connect to either of my FON router‘s WiFi networks, and unless I hunt down the terminal there’s no available recourse for me other than the less-than-helpful suggestion that I “could try again”.
Moblin’s web browser is similarly infuriating — tabs and favourite pages take up an entire splash screen, and there’s no visible means to see the rest of your browsing history.
Of course, none of the above would matter to the average user (assuming, of course, that the WiFi works). But forsaking the granular control of Maemo for eye candy like this will surely be a slap in the face for all the l33t mobile haX0rs who have championed the N900 since its release.
Before today’s news I thought I had Nokia’s open-source strategy all figured out. The Symbian Foundation would be a bullet-proof mobile Linux for carrier customization and Maemo would be a gift from on high for power users.
Now I don’t know what to think…