Just days after announcing its new Booklet 3G netbook—which will run a version of Windows—reports have Finnish phone maker Nokia getting ready to take on the iPhone with a new high-end handset running Maemo, a version of the open source Linux operating system. Reports have the company prepping to debut the phone next week at Nokia World 09 in Stuttgart, Germany.
Nokia has bet heavily on the Symbian operating system over the last several years, and, indeed, Symbian devices account for about half the worldwide market for smartphones in terms of sales volume—far ahead of competing devices running Windows Mobile or Android, or smartphones from the likes of Apple or RIM. However, Nokia has been offering Linux-based devices since 2005, focusing on its high-end “Internet tablet” products.
Industry watchers have Nokia betting on Maemo for the upper end of Nokia’s product line; Maemo promises to be more nimble than Symbian, enabling Nokia to bring new features and applications to devices more quickly. Nokia has stated that it hopes to bring a desktop-quality computing experience to mobile devices using Maemo. As such, Maemo might appeal strongly to enterprises and mobile professionals, and enable Nokia to reclaim territory lost to competitors at the high end of the mobile device market. While Nokia remains a major player in low-end handsets, often sold in developing markets, its share of the high-end (and high margin) phone market has dwindled significantly in the last year years—and in the United States, the company has increasingly turned to releasing high-end devices on its own without carrier partners, severely limiting their accessibility and distribution.