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Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Henri Bergius reviews the history of MeeGo and looks forward to what may yet become of it. "Many of the things people associate with iPad were already common for us in the old Internet Tablet times. I was getting my morning news on the 770 with Google Reader just like I now do with Pulse on an Android tablet, and I was sharing my location with friends via Plazes like people now do with Foursquare. The only difference is that back then the tablets were for a bit more exclusive club of Linux enthusiasts."
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Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 9, 2012 1:15 UTC (Mon) by drag (subscriber, #31333) [Link]

Yes. It sucks that Nokia had a working tablet OS back in 2006 and then threw it all away through endless rewrites, distribution changes, toolkit changes and other such nonsense.

It's a unfortunate failure.

Luckily Android folks side stepped all that otherwise we would be stuck in a world with blackberries, Windows phone 7 and iPhones dominating the market place.

I always liked the idea of having a real Linux Os on a phone, but c'est la vie

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 9, 2012 2:31 UTC (Mon) by deepfire (guest, #26138) [Link]

> Luckily Android folks side stepped all that

I'd rather say, inevitably.

The platform breadth, that is provided by the Linux kernel, could not go untapped for long.

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 9, 2012 5:04 UTC (Mon) by daniel (guest, #3181) [Link]

If Google had not stepped in, we would have had a serious uphill battle, with no guarantee of success, far from it.

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 9, 2012 3:15 UTC (Mon) by jcm (subscriber, #18262) [Link]

Indeed. What Nokia had was really cool for the time. I enjoyed my 770 very much. But it's not about how pretty and shiny your hardware is, or the software you ship with it (see also Touchpad), it's all about apps, ABIs, and compatibility. Google understand how to make a stable, consistent, managed platform, using one key concept: CONTROL. They provide adult supervision, and they reap the benefits.

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 9, 2012 3:41 UTC (Mon) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

Oh, come on. Android is a sufficiently ill-defined platform that applications often end up broken on subsets of devices. It's not difficult to find cases of breakage going between version updates. And that's only on the app side - internal interfaces regularly change, making it impossible to update devices if the manufacturer won't forward-port the binary-only bits of their stack. If it were as perfectly compatible and stable as you imply then you wouldn't need to own redundant phones because updates keep breaking things for you.

Android's not massively worse than other mobile platforms, but we never had an opportunity to figure out whether or not Meego would have provided any level of stability. The N900 shipped with something that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike Meego, and it shipped a year after the G1. Android had spent that year moving on from first-cut developer phones to devices that people actually wanted to use. Nokia released something large and heavy with a resistive touchscreen. It wasn't so much turning up to a gunfight with a knife - it was turning up to a gunfight while in the final stages of a fatal stroke.

There's plenty of justifiable reasons to explain the utter failure of Meego as a platform, but blaming platform stability when a total of zero devices ever shipped with Meego is just trying to fit your pet argument into an inappropriate hole.

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 9, 2012 3:47 UTC (Mon) by jcm (subscriber, #18262) [Link]

Android isn't perfect, and yes, I do own redundant phones and this is a sad requirement. But my operating rule is that I try to run stock firmware if possible, and I don't just randomly update it. I don't consider it a failure of Android if there aren't updates for older phones. If Google (or whatever phone vendor) want to push an update out to existing users then cool, great, it ought to work, but if they don't, it's not a failure if some user/developer downloads a build of Android (or makes one) and it doesn't work with an older phone. That's like expecting your car manufacturer to field upgrade last year's model through a recall just because there happens to be a newer in-dash software system available that you don't need.

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 9, 2012 11:48 UTC (Mon) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

I think you've missed my point. If updates break things, how is the platform stable? Given that it's irresponsible to run a network-connected device without applying security fixes I'd really hope that most people do run the updates.

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 9, 2012 18:27 UTC (Mon) by markhb (guest, #1003) [Link]

I think "most people" run their vendor-supplied Android version and apply whatever updates trickle down from the mfgr. and carrier. Under that model, I've never had an update (as opposed to a version upgrade) break anything, and I don't carry or own a backup phone.

So far as the version upgrade goes, the Eclair upgrade for the original CLIQ broke some things, but that was largely because the Moto team did yeoman work forcing 10 lbs. of manure into a 5 lb. bag.

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 9, 2012 23:42 UTC (Mon) by landley (subscriber, #6789) [Link]

Android has more smartphone preinstalls than anything but iPhone. Non-Android Linux has fewer smartphone preinstalls than blackberry or symbian. The number of consumers who reformat their phone and install a different OS is too small to measure, so in the short to medium term compatability is entirely a vendor issue.

This may change as the platform matures, but as yet we've seen no sign of it. Right now we're in smartphone version of the "ROM Basic" era of PCs, where all the apps are java blobs running in Dalvik and nobody really cares about native code. The PC outgrew ROM basic as it commoditized and people started pushing the limits of the hardware, but to get there the platform had to open itself up to third party vendors who didn't get distribution through IBM.

As long as installing apps goes through Google's app store, it's Dalvik all the way down. And as long as "people who don't have smartphones" is a bigger market than "people who have inferior smartphones", saying that X is an incremental technical improvement over Y will get lost in the noise. And by the time that stops, we'll have a winner.

Feel free to complain about how Google's version is less important than aftermarket Cyanogenmod while iPhone passes 50% and locks in the network effects. Did you know iPhone sales have surpassed Microsoft's entire gross revenue? Sure, Apple's being dickish, which will obviously hand the market over to Linux the same way Microsoft's repugnant behavior handed the desktop to DR-DOS, OS/2, BeOS, and Linux. Obviously they're doomed. (And of course _technical_ inferiority prevented Windows 3.1/95/98 from ever amounting to anything, and network insecurity immediately gutted XP's market share.)

But somehow, I'm not finding these arguments persuasive.

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 10, 2012 5:53 UTC (Tue) by Cyberax (✭ supporter ✭, #52523) [Link]

> As long as installing apps goes through Google's app store, it's Dalvik all the way down.
It's possible to develop Android apps purely in native code without even touching Java. A lot of games do just this, for example.

Java is necessary only if you're using Android's widget toolkit and functionality not exposed in NDK. And even then you can use thin Java wrappers.

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 9, 2012 18:55 UTC (Mon) by daniels (subscriber, #16193) [Link]

You're also missing his point that getting apps to run across the breadth of deployed devices is really, really difficult. It's almost as bad as trying to target desktop Linux.

Android is strong proof that you can actually develop a current smartphone platform while learning nothing from Symbian/Series 60.

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 9, 2012 18:56 UTC (Mon) by obi (guest, #5784) [Link]

Say what you want about the closedness of the Apple's walled garden, but at least they get this right.

I still have an app that's been pulled from the Apple store years ago (trademark violation), and so this hasn't received an update since. Yet it still works after multiple major OS updates (of iOS 3/4/5), and hasn't stopped working.

People shouldn't be afraid to update their phones. And there's no reason perfectly decent Andriod phones should be abandoned and relegated to "legacy" after a year or even a few months. The 3GS will still get a major iOS update in september, three years since its release. This should be the norm.

I don't know if this is in spite of Apple's closed nature, or because of it.

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 9, 2012 6:05 UTC (Mon) by drag (subscriber, #31333) [Link]

> Oh, come on. Android is a sufficiently ill-defined platform that applications often end up broken on subsets of devices. It's not difficult to find cases of breakage going between version updates.

Yeah and this may cause severe problems for Android and possibly on a surprisingly short timescale. Some groups are convinced that Android is going to fall from being the dominate phone platform this year or the next due to these problems.

Microsoft learns from it's mistakes and has enough money that they will keep trying over and over and over again if they think it's important enough. They believe that the mobile platform is critical to the future of their company. They will examine Android and copy what works and abandon what doesn't. Unless Android can keep up then they will lose market share massively.

> Android's not massively worse than other mobile platforms, but we never had an opportunity to figure out whether or not Meego would have provided any level of stability.

I agree.

Meego was a dead on arrival due to the judgement mistakes of people that ran the projects. I don't know if it's a problem with Nokia or other groups (ie: who in particular bears the responsibility), but I do know that what happened is due to mismanagement. When projects and corporations fail in endeavours like this it is 100% a management problem and not technology.

I can safely say this because Meego technology never made it to the market. Consequently, not a technology failure. THAT sort of thing is the failure of the leaders. It can only be their failure. They had years, lots of money, lots of talent, and lots of attention and they didn't do a good job. We can't say that the technology provided X and Android did Y because their is no real information to go off.

The only thing we can do is try to examine why it never made it to market and learn from their leadership mistakes. Their wrong decisions and wrong directions. Why they missed the boat.

(well, in all actuality leaders bear the responsibility and source of most failures. (there are exceptions, of course) Technology problems stem from bad decisions, but in this case it's easy to see, at least from my perspective, the technology never had a chance)

Nokia had Linux tablets on the market in 2006. That was 2 years before Android. That was a year before iPhone. It was 4 years before the iPad. I don't know exactly why it took them from 2006 to 2011 to add telephony capabilities to what they shipped on the Nokia 770, but I have my theories.

Then on top of that even after shipping a development mule type product (N9) to their target developers they decided to go through another rewrite, which seems a bad move.

It's not a fun subject. I loved the concept of the platform.

(This is a bit different from the situation with Linux and netbooks. They were able to get it out and for a while it was very popular (Linux systems topped Amazon best sellers, for example) and had a lot of attention. Unfortunately the platform(s) was soundly rejected by the consumer public in favor of more expensive systems running Windows.)

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 9, 2012 6:09 UTC (Mon) by drag (subscriber, #31333) [Link]

> Then on top of that even after shipping a development mule type product (N9)
*

Sorry I think I was confused with it's predecessor, N900. I got the timelines mixed up. 2006-2009 vs 2006-2011 and such things. I apologize.

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 9, 2012 7:32 UTC (Mon) by kragil (guest, #34373) [Link]

Android will do fine, no worries. Stupid software patents are the only thing that can stop it now.
Once cheap $100 phones(without contract) run 4.1 everybody will be very happy with Android. 4.1 is finally a great mobile OS, maybe even the best.

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 9, 2012 13:23 UTC (Mon) by pboddie (guest, #50784) [Link]

(The referenced article is really good, but it's not possible to say so on the blog, so I'll say so here.)

Nokia had Linux tablets on the market in 2006. That was 2 years before Android. That was a year before iPhone. It was 4 years before the iPad. I don't know exactly why it took them from 2006 to 2011 to add telephony capabilities to what they shipped on the Nokia 770, but I have my theories.

"We can't give the consumer everything at the same time - this is not a phone!" is probably a very large one. As for the general reasons about Nokia snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, here are a few:

  1. Always having the benefit of another iteration to get things "right": unlike the Apple and Android people, developing and then immediately delivering wasn't seen as feasible or even desirable. The five step plan is very telling, I think, and hints at the attitude mentioned above.
  2. Turf wars: I wonder how many e-mails were exchanged about getting access to hardware people for hardware details and specifications, and how many feathers were ruffled because some department head's pet project was going to be upstaged by the N-series tablets.
  3. The obsession over control: people who would have been happy to develop for these platforms were constantly rebuffed when it turned out that various parts were proprietary or secret, and Nokia representatives appeared to want to cultivate the impression that it was their "show", on their terms, and that outsiders should feel lucky to be able to participate in a limited way and, of course, popularise and legitimise the platform by developing for it.
  4. The exercise of control: every time Nokia iterated and changed the platform, no-one had anywhere else to go to for hardware (or support for that partially open hardware) in order to continue what they were working on, being forced to either rebase and keep up with the circus or give up and do something else. It's the rodeo style of community management.

I'm sure there are plenty of other reasons, but each one of those is pretty significant.

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 9, 2012 13:33 UTC (Mon) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

"I don't know exactly why it took them from 2006 to 2011 to add telephony capabilities to what they shipped on the Nokia 770"

I'd always just assumed that it took them that long to overcome the Series 60 powerbase. Including Maemo, Nokia were developing at least three mobile platforms simultaneously.

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 10, 2012 18:02 UTC (Tue) by Kluge (subscriber, #2881) [Link]

Which is why it seemed sensible to me to move from GTK+ to Qt, since Qt has had more success running on multiple platforms. Providing a Qt-based API for all their platforms seemed like a good way forward. Though I can't say whether Qt offered the right kind of abstractions for a mobile platform.

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 10, 2012 19:31 UTC (Tue) by drag (subscriber, #31333) [Link]

Moving to QT was a bad move because they abandoned something that was working for something that didn't and wasn't going to for years.

The whole cross-platform thing was a complete red herring and could not possibly make up for the loss of productivity. Even if GTK is non-portable, which it isn't, there is vastly more productive ways to solving that problem.

Another problem is that the toolkit is mostly irrelevant. GTK has warts, but so does everything else. No matter what you choose you are going to have to work with it and modify it to fit your system.

Application developers care about things like documentation and developer tools. As long as the APIs are not completely stupid they will tolerate it the same way that a guy driving a pickup tolerates the fact that he is driving a truck with white cab and automatic when he wants to have one with a white cab and manual transmission.

Customers care about applications and UI.

Changing the architecture over and over again served no purpose but to waste resources and time is a core reason why Meamo/Meego/etc failed miserably.

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 10, 2012 19:37 UTC (Tue) by drag (subscriber, #31333) [Link]

> Even if GTK is non-portable, which it isn't,

Eww. bad double negative. 'even if gtk is non-portable, which it is portable,' was the intended meaning.

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 11, 2012 16:53 UTC (Wed) by Cyberax (✭ supporter ✭, #52523) [Link]

Move to QT was OK. The programming environment in Meego is/was pretty cool.

However, the way they did this move is certainly suboptimal. They could have gradually phased in QT instead of throwing away everything (including DEB->RPM move).

No user value

Posted Jul 15, 2012 14:26 UTC (Sun) by man_ls (guest, #15091) [Link]

Mandatory Spolsky reference of the day: Things You Should Never Do, Part I. Solid advice. Developers might be happier, but users did not care one bit about graphical toolkit or package management.

No user value

Posted Jul 15, 2012 14:36 UTC (Sun) by Cyberax (✭ supporter ✭, #52523) [Link]

Yet without developers there won't be good programs. So you have to keep developers at least somewhat happy.

Microsoft understands this ("Developers, developers, developers, developers!") and provides nice tools for their platform.

Devs without users are no good

Posted Jul 15, 2012 14:43 UTC (Sun) by man_ls (guest, #15091) [Link]

Ideally you should keep both users and developers happy; but if in doubt, always please your userbase first. I submit Sony PlayStation as an (anecdotal, second-hand) example: even if their dev tools have sucked for a long time, it was not until their users were really unhappy about upgrades that users started leaving the platform.

Devs without users are no good

Posted Jul 15, 2012 15:02 UTC (Sun) by Cyberax (✭ supporter ✭, #52523) [Link]

Actually, PS3 is a good example. It took a couple of years for decent games to appear on PS3. That's why PS3 sales were initially growing very slowly.

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 9, 2012 19:30 UTC (Mon) by obi (guest, #5784) [Link]

> Then on top of that even after shipping a development mule type product (N9) to their target developers they decided to go through another rewrite, which seems a bad move.

Yeah. I was excited about the platform and got me a 770 as soon as they became available. I really wanted to develop for it.

About a year later they dropped all support for the 770 as the N800 came out, and alarm bells started ringing. Another year after that they announced the current platform based on Debian and GTK+ had no future, and that developers where basically wasting their time and should switch to QT, but oh yeah, QT devices weren't available and wouldn't be for several years. Or, “how to kill your developer base as quick as possible”

I dropped the platform completely right then and there as it seemed to be a project that was completely mismanaged with no future. I'm sorry to see that what I feared came to pass; just glad I didn't invest any more effort in it in the last four years.

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 9, 2012 9:27 UTC (Mon) by sumanah (subscriber, #59891) [Link]

almost, but not quite, entirely unlike Meego

A more subtle Adams reference than one usually finds, and thus restful; thank you.

a total of zero devices ever shipped with Meego

Tiny nitpick: I presume you're saying the N9 doesn't count. Why?

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 9, 2012 10:12 UTC (Mon) by bros (subscriber, #75198) [Link]

> Tiny nitpick: I presume you're saying the N9 doesn't count. Why?

I'm sorry to step in, but formally N9 does not have MeeGo OS on-board. What it has is called MeeGo 1.2 Harmattan and that is much closer to Maemo 6, rather then MeeGo.

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 9, 2012 12:30 UTC (Mon) by p2mate (subscriber, #51563) [Link]

I would say it is maemo6 :)

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 9, 2012 12:49 UTC (Mon) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

The N9 was based on the Meego core framework but I don't think it met the Meego Compliance spec. On the other hand, I may still have been too harsh there - Meego still seems to exist in the IVI market, so it may well end up shipping there if it hasn't already.

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 9, 2012 14:00 UTC (Mon) by sumanah (subscriber, #59891) [Link]

Ah, got it. Thanks to you, bros, & p2mate for clarifying.

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 9, 2012 3:20 UTC (Mon) by shmerl (guest, #65921) [Link]

The great thing is that they are collaborating with Mer, instead of reinventing the wheel. Smart move for them.

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 9, 2012 5:39 UTC (Mon) by drag (subscriber, #31333) [Link]

Well unfortunately Tizen, if that is what you are referring to, is switching to EFL.

So, yea. They are reinventing the wheel. And in their cooperation with Mer they are fracturing the efforts further because Mer seems to be sticking with QT environment. So they seem to be doing the same thing that has always happened and has always lead to failure. Users don't give a damn about toolkits, they care about how the interact with the UI and applications. All app developers care about is developer tools and that the core developers produce the minimal of bad interfaces possible. What sort of technology that drives the platform is almost irrelevant compared to those group's concerns.

I am not going to say that Tizen shouldn't do what they are doing or that Mer shouldn't do what they are doing. I am just saying is that if they want to make a relevant platform for consumers and developers beyond the core developers and a handful of hobbyists then they are probably not going to make any progress at all.

I don't really know their goals, though. If they are just making it for themselves and a relatively small group of hobbyists then they are doing a good job.

Good luck to them and if they ignore my observations then that's fine. I really wish them good luck. I've been plenty wrong before about other things.

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 9, 2012 6:40 UTC (Mon) by shmerl (guest, #65921) [Link]

No, I was referring to the Mer OS project: http://merproject.org

Unfortunately Tizen doesn't use Mer as a core.

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 9, 2012 6:45 UTC (Mon) by shmerl (guest, #65921) [Link]

Mer has an advantage that it's not corporate controlled, and doesn't have political shortcomings of Meego which died so easily the moment Nokia pulled the plug. Tizen has the same risk as Meego since it's at mercy of Samsung's and Intel's unstable moods, and history shows they aren't really trustowrthy in regards of the platform viability. So it's good that Jolla decided to use Mer. Together with Plasma Active Mer will have a good starting pool of vendors using the OS.

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 9, 2012 4:15 UTC (Mon) by b7j0c (guest, #27559) [Link]

the ship has sailed people. but if VC money is going to be burned up on something, sure, another go at a meego phone

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 9, 2012 5:10 UTC (Mon) by daniel (guest, #3181) [Link]

That level of pessimism is not entirely justified. Amazon could possibly become interested in a cash-out, for one.

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 9, 2012 4:45 UTC (Mon) by rsidd (subscriber, #2582) [Link]

It was idiotic of Nokia to dump Meego in favour of Windows. And they got rewarded with a nice snub from MS (who have declined to supply Windows 8 for current devices). Nokia is dead. Whether Meego can be reborn remains to be seen.

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 9, 2012 5:15 UTC (Mon) by daniel (guest, #3181) [Link]

I doubt that Microsoft actually wanted to leave the Lumia in the lurch. It is more probable that their dysfunctional engineering organization simply failed to deliver the port in time, starting with failure to architect a sufficiently flexible hardware model and degenerating from there.

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 9, 2012 8:58 UTC (Mon) by AndreE (guest, #60148) [Link]

That's the common argument in these parts. I think it's only half correct. They needed to dump Meego, but whether Android or Windows was the best choice remains to be seen

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 9, 2012 16:43 UTC (Mon) by pboddie (guest, #50784) [Link]

They needed to dump MeeGo? If we consider "MeeGo" to mean the continuum of technologies from Maemo through the Maemo/MeeGo hybrid that was shipped in a real product to the MeeGo/Tizen projects, I don't see much justification for dumping it at all.

After all, the software got its outing at retail and apparently did rather well when the organisation was squeezed by competitors, investors and (presumably) internal forces, and had to deliver it. It makes one wonder why they didn't see the need to release such products earlier.

As for the Android versus Windows argument, it's conceivable that Microsoft will use their usual dirty tricks to limit Android's growth and win in the long term, but then one has to wonder whether Nokia will be around to see it happen.

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 9, 2012 17:32 UTC (Mon) by slashdot (guest, #22014) [Link]

What dirty tricks?

Microsoft isn't much bigger than Google, and Apple is much bigger than both of them (in several metrics), so they can't brute force the situation with money.

Extending their Windows "monopoly" also seems problematic, because mobile devices nowadays tend to be independent, and data tends to move to "cloud" solutions rather than being locked into Windows PCs.

They might somehow deliver a better product though, not sure about that.

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 9, 2012 22:07 UTC (Mon) by pboddie (guest, #50784) [Link]

What dirty tricks?

First out of the bag, then: take a look at all the patent enforcement actions involving Microsoft and/or "patent licensing" companies having a certain connection to Microsoft that are targeted towards anyone shipping Android.

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 9, 2012 18:40 UTC (Mon) by nim-nim (subscriber, #34454) [Link]

*Microsoft* needed Meego dumped – Nokia was financing all kinds of existing desktop & kernel infrastructure enhancements (gtk-side, gstreamer-side, qt-site) for Meego that could all be reused to attack Windows on the desktop and that were all slowly producing results. That's exactly how Red Hat and Suse made Linux a success server-side (and conversely why Canonical is not dangerous for Microsoft – too little infra work, too much NIHism).

In other words, Nokia was not only a threat for Microsoft's phone business, but also for its core products (Tizen and the EFL? ROTFL)

I've no doubt killing Nokia Linux initiatives was part of getting a better Microsoft deal, and that the choice was easy to do for Elop, once he decided he cared more about Microsoft than Nokia (and that was not a given, Paul Maritz did switch priorities when hired VMWare-side).

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 9, 2012 18:44 UTC (Mon) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

Why would Nokia target two smartphone platforms at once? The Series 60/Meego situation was hardly a stunning success, and there's no reason to believe that Meego/Windows would have gone any better. Dropping Meego development in favour of letting Microsoft do most of the OS development was a completely rational thing to do even without any fringe benefits to Microsoft.

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 9, 2012 20:06 UTC (Mon) by nim-nim (subscriber, #34454) [Link]

No it's perfectly irrational, because Nokia is not a platform vendor it's a phone vendor. A Nokia Meego phone sale is not stealing Lumia sales it's stealing Samsung/Apple/HTC/LG/Motorola sales. Nokia hardware is not here to sell software platforms it's an end in itself. Every Nokia competitor understands this and will use any software platform that will help it sell its hardware, platform purity be damned. None is single-platform (except for Apple, but then Apple controls its software well enough to make sure it will fit its future hardware products).

That's why Nokia is on a death march today: Elop decided it was more important to sell the products of its partner than to sell its own.

Windows Phone is not developed at Nokia but at Microsoft. No amount of Meego/Symbian killing was going to make Windows phone improve faster. OTOH the direct result of this killing was Nokia's inability to deliver differentiated phones (a must for a mass-market vendor, not for a niche player like Apple that focuses on the high-revenue segment). There is little difference between Lumia models because they are all declinations of the same Windows reference platform, that is too immature to permit much hardware differentiation (or even to keep compatibility with older hardware platforms, see how the current Lumia line has been obsoleted by Windows platform changes).

On a PC platform it does not matter much what the hardware is because of wide compatibility. In the embedded world if software and hardware do not fit you have nothing to sell.

The Series 60/Meego was not massively hipped but it *was* a massively profitable. The Lumias have been massively hyped (with record marketing expenditures and astroturphing) and try to emulate another massively hyped product line (Apple's) but they're not bringing any revenue. Now if you want to measure success in app store submissions Lumia is a stunning success. I'll take real users and real money any time.

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 9, 2012 20:18 UTC (Mon) by nim-nim (subscriber, #34454) [Link]

(to give an idea of the massive idiocy at play at Nokia in Elop years: they had to close factories and dump whole supplier chains because Microsoft had no drivers for the chip families Nokia was used to work with; they had to drop phone features because the hardware Microsoft had drivers for was less capable than their usual hardware; they broke with their main carrier partner in China because it had been sold on Meego and saw no future on a Microsoft platform – and all this to see global windows phone market share shrink even lower because carriers and users do not want it)

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 9, 2012 21:50 UTC (Mon) by daniels (subscriber, #16193) [Link]

I'm not sure how you're drawing a line between the change from OMAP to Qualcomm, and factories closing, but that's so far from correct I'm not really sure where to start.

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 10, 2012 4:32 UTC (Tue) by nim-nim (subscriber, #34454) [Link]

IIRC it was not just a change from OMAP to Qualcomm, they had to drop chips at every level

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 10, 2012 7:38 UTC (Tue) by daniels (subscriber, #16193) [Link]

Still makes no difference. If Nokia factories could only handle one variety of display controller / power regulator / USB controller / etc, they would've been out of business long ago.

This is a company who had probably the single most diverse product portfolio in the entire industry, stretching to at least hundreds of products. Throw in the prototypes and you're up to thousands. And this is going from the very very cheapest 1110, right up to the N9 and other smartphones.

What you're saying makes absolutely no sense, sorry.

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 10, 2012 8:30 UTC (Tue) by nim-nim (subscriber, #34454) [Link]

It's one thing to handle different parts from the same supplier it's another to switch suppliers completely. Completely messes up supply lines, part stocks, procurement handling, logistics, tooling, etc. We're talking about hardware here, it's not a relink away.

IIRC (and please correct if you have any proof to the contrary) it went like this:

1. New CEO decides to partner with Microsoft. Winphone requirements demand massive hardware reorientation

2. Nokia can't produce winphones at once. To held self-imposed deadlines Lumias needs to be subcontracted to one of the usual taiwanese winphone producers. It wraps an N9-derived shell around something very close to the Microsoft reference design

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nokia_Lumia_800
> Nokia outsourced the production of its Qualcomm-based Lumia 800 to
> Compal Electronics. According to Nokia, this was due to time constraints
> and Compal's experience with the chipset.

What madness is that? You don't externalize your core business ever. That's a basic rule. And if Lumia production was not Nokia's core business at this point why did it kill everything else?

3. Nokia publicly disparages its old product lines, tries to strong-arm all its parters (carriers, resellers) to accept winphones instead of what was previously agreed. Refuses to sell other lines if the partner doesn't push Lumias

4. Everyone switches to Android, Symbian tanks, Nokia does not want to sell Meego

5. Consumers recognize the taiwanese winphones they didn't want last year under the new Nokia cover and don't buy them

6. Nokia closes factories

I don't know if between 2. and 6. Nokia made any serious effort to re-internalise production, and even if they did (and taking into account that Compal almost certainly insisted on some volume commitments before producing) Lumia sales are so underwhelming they can't justify retooling most existing factories nor retraining the workforce.

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 10, 2012 9:56 UTC (Tue) by daniels (subscriber, #16193) [Link]

> 1. New CEO decides to partner with Microsoft. Winphone requirements demand massive hardware reorientation

It's not a massive hardware reorientation. Remember that Nokia had one of the most diverse product lines in the world, and I can assure you that they weren't reliant on a single supplier.

Even when they were, yes that does take time to ramp up in terms of sourcing and logistics, but it has absolutely nothing to do with shutting down factories. Zip, zero. The plant tools don't care whether the chip came from TI or OMAP or Sharp or Toshiba or Samsung.

Yes, it does take time, but Nokia - for all its strategic faults recently - has long been praised as one of the best handlers of its supply chain and logistics in the world.

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 10, 2012 10:59 UTC (Tue) by nim-nim (subscriber, #34454) [Link]

> The plant tools don't care whether the chip came from TI or OMAP or
> Sharp or Toshiba or Samsung.

Really? Are not the test processes vendor-specific?

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 10, 2012 11:01 UTC (Tue) by daniels (subscriber, #16193) [Link]

Part-specific, but a lot more of it's done in software than you'd think.

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 9, 2012 20:14 UTC (Mon) by tuna (guest, #44480) [Link]

Do you know know many screen resolutions does WP7 support? The answer is 1. WP8 will support 3 screen resolutions. Nokia will not be able to buy any other screen than what is explicitly supported by MS.

The same thing with cameras. Why do you think Nokia put their best camera ever on a Symbian phone? Well, MS' drivers do not support that camera and the WP7 probably can't handle images of that size.

Nokia is screwed, not because MS is setting the SW development but because they have to buy the HW that MS support. And that is not a nice place to be if you are a HW manufacturer.

Endogamic hardware

Posted Jul 10, 2012 0:10 UTC (Tue) by man_ls (guest, #15091) [Link]

Funny. And of course one processor manufacturer (Qualcomm), which locks Nokia up with exactly one supplier. Nice!

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 10, 2012 1:29 UTC (Tue) by daniels (subscriber, #16193) [Link]

> Do you know know many screen resolutions does WP7 support? The answer is 1. WP8 will support 3 screen resolutions. Nokia will not be able to buy any other screen than what is explicitly supported by MS.

Not much change there then, as ITOS on the 770/N800/N810, Maemo 5 on the N900 and MeeGo-Harmattan on the N9, only supported one resolution each.

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 10, 2012 8:56 UTC (Tue) by mpr22 (subscriber, #60784) [Link]

It's one thing having an internally developed platform that only supports one resolution; you can in principle fix that yourself, and on any given platform the only resolution you need to support is the native resolution of your discrete-element display. It's quite another having your one-true-resolution imposed by your upstream OS vendor (especially if you don't fabricate your own displays - I'm not sure whether Nokia do or not).

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 10, 2012 15:18 UTC (Tue) by shmerl (guest, #65921) [Link]

> *Microsoft* needed Meego dumped – Nokia was financing all kinds of
> existing desktop & kernel infrastructure enhancements (gtk-side,
> gstreamer-side, qt-site) for Meego that could all be reused to attack
> Windows on the desktop

I'd say it was the most probable reason for Microsoft to bribe Nokia to kill Meego. They are in general trying to sabotage any success of Linux technologies which can benefit the Linux on the desktop. But it's still just a speculation.

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 11, 2012 11:28 UTC (Wed) by tf (guest, #85123) [Link]

Haha, if in doubt, go down the conspiracy theory route.

MeeGo was a *brand* which never really got beyond the PR releases, conference swag, and half baked compliance documents, to producing tangible technology. The decision to form MeeGo from Moblin and Maemo was technically ill informed and lacking in the most basic understanding of the two platforms. The profound incompatibility between the two meant that while either Moblin or Maemo were viable platforms in their own right, MeeGo never was, and so it's not very surprising the promised platform (as opposed to the brand) never materialized; what was shipping under the MeeGo brand (N9; 'Moblin aka MeeGo' Netbook) were essentially two different, incompatible (and discontinued) platforms.

The Nokia decision to pull the plug on its MeeGo involvement was not only perfectly rational, it would have been managerially irresponsible not to. If anything is irrational in the MeeGo story, it is both Nokia and Intel thinking it was a good idea to start with.

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 11, 2012 12:39 UTC (Wed) by nim-nim (subscriber, #34454) [Link]

It was not just a brand. If you've not seen all the most excellent work Nokia people and contractors did upstream in the past years at all levels of the stack (from kernel to high-level frameworks) you've not followed a lot of the projects lwn is about.

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 12, 2012 8:09 UTC (Thu) by tf (guest, #85123) [Link]

I don't think you understand what a platform is, the same way that MeeGo publicity had systematically failed to differentiate between an aspiration ('aims to') and reality ('is').

If you look up the MeeGo About page, you will see the statement 'the MeeGo project *provides* a Linux-based, open source software platform for the next generation of computing devices ... designed to give developers the broadest range of device segments to target for their applications, including netbooks, handheld computing and communications devices, in-vehicle infotainment devices, smart TVs, tablets and more – all using a *uniform* set of APIs based on Qt.' -- by this definition MeeGo as a platform never existed. (Emphasis mine.)

On the 1.1 release, the LinuxFoundation stated 'MeeGo supports a magnitude[!] of mobile client devices (handsets, connected TVs, in-vehicle infotainment ..., netbooks, and tablets)'. Again, this statement confuses aspiration and reality; MeeGo by its self-definition never supported any of these; looking at the 1.1 release page, it officially 'supported', netbooks, handsets and IVI, but only the netbook was of release quality (see the 'known issues'), and the Netbook continued to be just Moblin rebranded! This had not changed by the 1.2 release, except by then the handset as a supported platform is no longer on the release page.

So, the only form factor that MeeGo (as released) ever *really* supported (i.e., you could deploy the OS in production) was the netbook, and the netbook was based on the Moblin software stack, which is completely different from the MeeGo common APIs (clutter, gtk).

Harmattan was, by Nokia's own statement Maemo under the MeeGo brand; it overlapped with MeeGo only to the extent to which MeeGo borrowed from Maemo (see http://talk.maemo.org/showpost.php?p=529073).

So the only two things that ever shipped under the MeeGo *brand* were Maemo and Moblin rebranded (and both of these would have happened without any great differences, just under different branding, if the MeeGo project was not created; this is worth reflecting upon).

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 12, 2012 9:00 UTC (Thu) by nim-nim (subscriber, #34454) [Link]

I don't seek I *care*. 'platform' is a marketing ideal that does not exist in real-life. 'Platform' is what you would get if only you could rewrite everything at once in a single homogeneous whole. 'Platform'-oriented people battle their own partners to prevent them from getting useful stuff done now and insist they should wait for the pure 'platform' solution that will materialize someday (just like SUN fought tooth and nail to get everyone to use the universally hated swing, and ended up with no gui presence at all)

Real-life successful products are mongrels that accept the holy platform is an ideal that won't be attained, and make it easy to reuse code written for previous platform endeavours.

Bergius: The Dreams of the MeeGo Diaspora

Posted Jul 11, 2012 20:42 UTC (Wed) by shmerl (guest, #65921) [Link]

Not at all. As we can see Mer project collected what was good in the Meego project, and addressed what was bad there (in particular the bad corporate control). Now both PlasmaActive and Jolla found Mer to be a good base. Nokia *could* play it right, but they failed or intentionally didn't do it.


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