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Nokia Moving N-Series To MeeGo

The Linux-based operating system will power Nokia's flagship smartphones, while lower-end phones will still run on Symbian.

The Linux-based MeeGo operating system will be the new platform of choice for Nokia's flagship N-series smartphones, a spokeswoman said, a decision the Finland-based company hopes will help it compete with Apple's iPhone and other higher-end smartphones.

The Nokia N8 will be the last of the N-series smartphones to use Symbian, the spokeswoman said. "The N-series devices will indeed be based on MeeGo in the future,'' she said Friday. "As communicated when we first announced the creation of MeeGo earlier this year, that is our chosen platform for the higher-end computing devices, so this should not be any big revelation or surprise. Symbian will continue to be the platform of scale for smartphones to the masses" and for developers.

"It's certainly the right decision in terms of competing with other modern mobile OSes -- MeeGo gives Nokia a lot more headroom, and probably gets them to market faster as well,'' noted Avi Greengart, research director of consumer devices at Current Analysis, in an e-mail. "The key will be creating an interface and embedded services that provide a user experience that gives consumers a reason to choose a MeeGo device over one from Apple, Google licensees, or RIM, or, for that matter, Windows Phone 7 licensees or Palm/HP."

Greengart said this will be "a formidable challenge,'' calling the user interface on the N900, which runs Maemo 5, MeeGo's predecessor, "inscrutable."

MeeGo will run on high-performance devices and deliver an array of Internet, computing, and communication experiences for consumers. It was launched in February in a joint venture between Nokia and Intel as a combination of two other Linux efforts, Nokia's Maemo effort and Intel's Moblin.

Before the iPhone was introduced in 2007, Nokia was the dominant phone maker, but it has struggled to remain competitive. The N-series OS switch signifies that Nokia's plan when it bought out other shareholders of Symbian in 2008 and gave the code to the open source community, was not enough to generate greater interest in the operating system.

Meanwhile, sales of the iPhone and Google's Android-powered devices have been steadily climbing. Sales of the newly released iPhone 4 are already projected at upwards of 1.5 million and Google says it is activating 160,000 new Android phones daily.

The Meego project released version 1.0 of its platform for developers last month, along with its netbook-based user interface. MeeGo is set to debut a handset UI this month and the first smartphone later this year or early 2011.

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