sabato 12 febbraio 2011

Committed to Linux

As a Nokia employee working on MeeGo, I feel that my career is going to be deeply affected by the recently announced Nokia strategy. I'm not going to comment on the value of the business decisions; of course I have my opinions about that too, but what I feel more important now is the future of MeeGo, and Linux-based platforms in general, inside Nokia.
The announcement mentions MeeGo only marginally, as a “longer-term market exploration”, and ends the paragraph with “Nokia still plans to ship a MeeGo-related product later this year”. This sounds to me like: we won't market any MeeGo devices in parallel with Windows Phone ones, not to hinder the latter's success, but we'll release the MeeGo product we're currently working on before downscaling MeeGo back into the R&D division.

No matter how wrong my interpretation might be, let's try to collect a few facts:

  • MeeGo is ready, it's not an R&D project: a MeeGo phone will be released
  • Nokia's primary platform for the middle/long term is Windows Mobile
  • Meego will become, within Nokia, an R&D project at best

I feel confused and fooled. Business logics are floating several metres above my head, and I cannot understand what's the point of saying that MeeGo will be an R&D project when it's not. To me, it's like taking a teenager and trying to squeeze him into a baby's cradle. Either you kill him more or less explicitly, or you take him out, let him grow and give him a chance to be a hero. We are going to have the best phone in the market this year. It might not be perfect, as the N900 clearly wasn't, but all the premises for a brilliant future are there. And people will love it, as they loved the N900 despite it being far away from the quality standards we aspired to achieve and despite a zero-digits investment on marketing. Maemo won, against all odds.

One thing is clear: Nokia is not committed to Linux and the platform for the future Nokia devices is not going to be Linux-based, at least in the middle term. Because if it were, I can't see a reason why it couldn't be MeeGo.

If I try to imagine my future career in Nokia, I see myself either working on applications or R&D projects on top of Windows Mobile, or trying to squeeze the teenager into the cradle, and maybe put him into the refrigerator and periodically check that he doesn't die, because hey, he's our far future hope.
So, what do I have against Windows Mobile? Simple: it's closed source software. And it doesn't matter if the software I develop is open-source; on the contrary, if I had to choose between developing open-source software on top of a closed platform and developing closed-source software on top of an open-source platform, I'd much rather go for the second option: because with the first one I'd still be using and promoting a closed platform, and unless you are developing a cross-platform application or framework, you'd be doing very little good to the open source world.

Summing up. I really wish that Nokia took one step back and revised their plan. Not because I ask it of course, but because the loyal customers, the developers and the investors are asking it. And give a clear statement on what is the future of MeeGo, Linux and open-source within Nokia. Meanwhile, my CV has been updated and has appeared on this blog's navigation menu for anyone to read. Companies committed to Linux are welcome to contact me for proposing a job or even a shorter term collaboration. It would be wonderful if I was given a chance to continue working on MeeGo, work on some cool ideas, work to introduce the Accounts & SingleSignOn framework to more Linux distributions and open-source OSes. Or actually, anything where I would be given a chance to develop on top of open-source software.
Proposals from Nokia are welcome as well.

Note: in this blog post I'm talking only about MeeGo because it's what's affecting me most, and I wanted to keep the post to the point. It doesn't mean that I don't care about Symbian's future and Qt deployment.

Etichette: , , , , ,

41 Commenti:

Anonymous Anonimo ha detto...

Your involvement in the Maemo 5 Community SSU is even more welcome.

I can't imagine what it must be like to have shared in your employer's vision but then have your employer's executives turn in completely the opposite direction :-(

12 febbraio 2011 15:55  
Anonymous Anonimo ha detto...

Mardy, thank you very much. You're our hero!

12 febbraio 2011 19:16  
Anonymous Anonimo ha detto...

Good luck with your job search. I already left Nokia from the S40 department last year because I thought it was too dangerous to stay on. I am really surprised that they will be staying. Yesterday's announcement makes no sense to me and it is sad for OSS (Meego, Qt).

12 febbraio 2011 20:18  
Anonymous Anonimo ha detto...

"Nokia's primary platform for the middle/long term is Windows Mobile"

No it'll not be Windows Mobile. It'll be Windows Phone 7.

Know your enemy if you will...

12 febbraio 2011 20:53  
Anonymous Anonimo ha detto...

I wondered what employees must be thinking... It's pretty clear what a huge number of Nokia customers are thinking. It's good to get another perspective on the whole mess.

From my point of view, I will keep using my N900 as long as the community support holds out, then go looking for something Android, Web OS or similar. Maemo 5 Community support seems to be easily good enough to keep the platform viable for some time, I'll certainly be doing as much as I'm able to be part of that community. I hope your employment prospects work out for the best!

12 febbraio 2011 22:01  
Blogger Chrisphillers ha detto...

Maemo COULD have been great, it just was too buggy and Nokia just didnt invest in fixing/improving it. That killed the N900 which was such a pity as it had massive potential. (it also made me lose a lot of goodwill in Nokia.
It seems the same thing will happen to the Meego phone now. such a pity.

12 febbraio 2011 22:51  
Blogger Jonathan Pritchard ha detto...

I think you're right about what customers are feeling as well. Clearly this was a shock decision for everyone but the top.

Like you, I don't think this is just about making phones, it's about the right way to make phones, the right way to make software, and I think the trend was and is towards more openness, not the other way around.

If I worked for Nokia on MeeGo, right now I'd be seriously thinking about what Nokia is going to become.

Is there definitely going to be a Nokia MeeGo handset this year? Is that what Elop meant by the 'device'?

Best of luck with the job.

12 febbraio 2011 23:46  
Anonymous Viipottaja ha detto...

"Meego related device" to me sounds like either a Harmattan phone or a Meego tablet. or a toaster oven. What do you think?

best of luck, hang in there!

13 febbraio 2011 00:15  
Blogger Kyllikki ha detto...

Terve Alberto,
I am not a Nokia employer and not really involved with Nokia's business expect I am happy N900 user and I used to be a Nokia shareholder until Friday morning.

What is going on right now is quite clear. Q4 sales of smartphones was Symbian 30M, Android 22M, Iphone 16M, Windows 1-2M. It is obvious for everyone that WP7 can never really challenge Android/Apple as long as Symbian is there (it is also very questionnable can WP7 do it when there is no Symbia, I don't think so and Wall Street does not think so either). That's why Ballmer had to sneak in a Trojan called Elop.

MeeGo will be kept as an experimental platform, without sacrificing any real and significant resources. Just like Maemo. Elop might be right in that point when he is claiming that MeeGo development has been much too slow. You now better than I do is that correct or not ? Maybe delays are due to Intel's Moorestown processors ? MeeGo will be kept either because of some heavy commitment towards to Intel and/or it keeps at least some kind of back door open when WP7 screws up big time (which will happen 100% sure in 2011/2012).

Meanwhile, I wish you best luck. I used to live in your neighbour street Gyldenintie, where I still own an apartment. Unfortunately I am out country since >10 year, thus we cannot discuss more face-to-face in some of Lauttasaari's public houses.

Kyllikki Varvisaari

13 febbraio 2011 02:10  
Blogger NIC1138 ha detto...

I am also curious. Is MeeGo really ready, and the promised device will actually run MeeGo, or is it that Harmattanic chimera?...

13 febbraio 2011 02:11  
Anonymous Anonimo ha detto...

if Palm could do WebOS with linux Nokia could have done Meego as well if they were willing. there's really no excuse on their part.

13 febbraio 2011 03:07  
Anonymous Anonimo ha detto...

Holy crap. You posted this while you're an employee of Nokia and without another job already lined up? You have massive brass balls man! But I'm glad to hear MeeGo is ready to go. I was hoping the platform would get a marketing push and bring customers and developers back to Nokia, but they decided to flush it down the toilet. I was really hoping MeeGo would move past the Maemo niche but I guess it's not to be. I'm honestly not sure if I'll even buy the Nokia MeeGo device once it's released, as I don't want the profits from it being used to support future WP7 devices. Nokia has pushed me away as a customer, just as it sounds like they've pushed you away as an employee. That makes me sad, but c'est la vie.

13 febbraio 2011 06:10  
Anonymous Anonimo ha detto...


Hang in there while you are still a Nokia employee working to finish off and push the said Meego device out the door later this year. I will probably be one of the first in the queue to get it to replace or compliment my N900. In fact, please don't let the current situation affect you. Please tell and encourage the other team members to focus all your energy to make the Meego device one hell of mobile computer, so that it will sell millions.

Keep fighting. I believe there plenty of N900 believers who are waiting eagerly for the Meego device even if it is going to be an experimental product from Nokia Imagine: An experimental Meego device out-selling all the "principal WP7 devices" that Mr Elop promises the world.

And when the board of directors and shareholders see that Elop has mis-predicted the strategy for Nokia, he would be fired and asked to go back to Microsoft with his head down.

But the Meego Device needs to get out the door quick, at least before your company share drop to a level that Microsoft would simply take over Nokia.

If only the Maemo team in Nokia has done a better job with the N900, we won't be here talking about all these now. And if the Meego device is indeed marked improvements over the N900, that is clearly the future of Nokia.

From a N900 owner.

13 febbraio 2011 07:26  
Anonymous Anonimo ha detto...

Unfortunately, I think the reason Mr. Elop wants to move Meego to R&D is because if he kills it dead then the next logical step is to sell the R&D to another manufacturer, and he doesn't want that because it would offer too much of a competitor to the proposed Nokia Windows phone. It's a bit like how he sidelined Director at Macromedia after Adobe purchased it; if he had sold Director it would have been a direct competitor to Flash so it was easier to push this mature product back into R&D where it has quietly died (see for more details)

I feel truly sorry for you, and I hope the Nokia board have the balls to tell Elop to take his cuckoo egg and go back to Microsoft.

Al Reynolds

13 febbraio 2011 08:37  
Anonymous Adman ha detto...

Mardy, good luck and succes for the future. A fan and n900 user.

13 febbraio 2011 11:15  
Anonymous Anonimo ha detto...

It's sad if you see things in Nokia this way, and maybe you will be proven right.

For what I see now, I find that it's only becoming more interesting. Or rather, it's returning to the steady path that we left once. Except, we don't have to redo same things over and over any more, the platform is largely settled, despite all the crazy shit we also had to put up with. Now it's up to us to show how good it is.

your colleague.

13 febbraio 2011 12:20  
Anonymous sbock ha detto...

Hey Mardy!

Thanks for this clear words and good luck with your next job.


13 febbraio 2011 12:31  
Blogger bungle ha detto...

Hi Mardy,

People like you, make this world a better place to live. Keep your head up. You have already won our hearts. Markets will follow the later.

13 febbraio 2011 15:10  
Anonymous Anonimo ha detto...

i love my n900, i love the old nokia, i love meego.

but now, nokia isnt the same anymore. its not finish till they opened a "second" hq in the silicon valley, which will be the first hq in the future, the board and elop sold nokia for low.

in the future i have to search for a new phone os wich i like, but apple, google or ms is no choice for me. maybe webos will be, the future will tell...


as a tribute to all employees who have worked on meego and to show elop that he is wrong, i will buy the meego phone when it comes out.

if everybody would buy this meego phone and noone buys a wp7 phone, maybe we have a chance to rescue meego...

who is with me?

13 febbraio 2011 15:59  
Anonymous Anonimo ha detto...

Hope things work out for you. There is always demand for talented people.

It is very suspicious how the whole wp7 decision was made.
With nokia essentially being reduced to a hw manufacturer from cheap labor countries the future really seems rather dim for nokia. Maybe intel or some other phone manufacturer (think htc, samsung) could hire nokias meego development team, and buy navteq while they're at it. Awesomeness could ensue.

13 febbraio 2011 16:08  
Blogger Silence ha detto...

It is a shame to say but as a customer I also feel betrayed. And being a developer - but not on mobile applications - I don't buy into the whole PR spin of Meego/QT is important... . I find it even disrespectful that they even try to sell that load of BS.

Sorry for my harsh words but I find the notion that porting QT for example would lead to more fragmentation, while the philosophy was "write once, run anywhere" very laughable and sad at the same time. It is very telling for the situation that Nokia is in for the moment.

I'm even sad to say that after 12 years of using only nokia phones I just ordered a non nokia (android) phone.

Then again I looked into your resume and I'm rather sure you will maybe find a job that will provides you more happiness.

13 febbraio 2011 16:21  
Blogger Jon ha detto...

Thanks Mardy for your explanation and opinion. I hope you have good luck and find a path to enroute your desires.
Hope that Meego will do it too...

13 febbraio 2011 16:23  
Anonymous Henrik ha detto...

All the best to you and your colleagues!

It seems as if MS has acquired Nokia for 0$...

2/11 was a very sad day for Europe!

I'm sure that you'll understand why we (a lot of loyal Nokia customers/advocates) won't buy or promote Nokia phones any more.

I hope that the Nokia owners will take the required actions ASAP! (You know what I mean ;-) )

13 febbraio 2011 18:38  
Blogger gchappi ha detto...

I don't think it was a bad decision.

It sucks that so many people rush into Apples iJail but alas they do and it strongly proves that free (e.g. as in MeeGo) is not important for the masses.

Between Android, RIM, the now well-funded webOS (my choice) and WP7, I don't think there was a place left for MeeGo.

Though I wouldn't want to use Windows Phone 7 in its current state, I like/admire the UI. And if webOS should fail it could be an alternative to Android.

13 febbraio 2011 19:29  
Anonymous Anonimo ha detto...

Intel seems to have MeeGo phones. Perhaps I don't need to forget having a Linux phone after all.

I have been very down about the idea of forgetting QT and Meego. They looked very promising. Myself, I would start a company and use Aava Mobile components to compete with Nokia using Meego. They will succeed.

13 febbraio 2011 19:51  
Blogger Hadrien ha detto...

Well, myself I was a fellow Symbian customer (because there are not that much good OSs for mid-end phones on the market :)), but I feel hurt and betrayed as well.

My E63 will probably my last Nokia phone, just don't know how I'm going to replace it. Maybe I'll have a look at Samsung's bada, it sounds like an interesting mid-end platform, although I have to learn more about it.

13 febbraio 2011 22:54  
Anonymous Anonimo ha detto...

I was browsing reddit and an article popped up there about this. Nobody seemed to know anything about meego. A lot of people read reddit so maybe if you did one of those IAMA threads you might spark a lot of outside interest rather than those die hard n900 users. All you nees is a solid device running meego and a high quality video showing it off. Answer a few questions after that and maybe nokia will have to change their mind.

14 febbraio 2011 01:49  
Anonymous Mauricio PIacentini ha detto...

I am sure it will be easy for you to find a new job. After all, this post shows that you are passionate about the things that you do, and this is an asset that can not be bought. Good luck!

14 febbraio 2011 02:15  
Blogger Ego ha detto...

Thank you for your insights.

Like many others here, I'm a very satisfied Maemo/N900 user that hates to see Nokia close this road to a truly free and open mobile platform. A sad day for us all.

I wish you the best of luck and hope we'll soon be able to find another road.

14 febbraio 2011 06:32  
Anonymous Anonimo ha detto...

u hav my sympathies for MeeGo + Symbian + QT

14 febbraio 2011 08:46  
Anonymous Rama ha detto...

I guess at the core of this decision, its a Windows Vs Linux war. Hope Nokia (CEO/Investors/LT) understands Open source and value of open source to Nokia.

14 febbraio 2011 09:46  
Anonymous Anonimo ha detto...

As a citizen of Finland I feel sorry of what happened and feel sympathy to Nokia employees. We have been hoping that Linux would be the winner. I still wonder what went wrong, iphone has been around 4 years as an example.
As A senior I remember what happened around 1985.
Many good personal computers were in the market (amiga, atari...). Then IBMPC won the game, but not because it was better.

14 febbraio 2011 15:03  
Anonymous Anonimo ha detto...

I used to be a very loyal Nokia customer for 15 years now. Well, used to, I was, and bought my first non-Nokia handset in my life on Friday and sold my Nokia shares.

I feel sold as a loyal customer. I have been looking forward to the Symbian / MeeGo / Qt strategy Nokia had.
Now I don't have real hopes for MeeGo in the handset segment at all, except if some other company steps in there.

14 febbraio 2011 15:12  
Anonymous Anonimo ha detto...

If your opinion that MeeGo was ready for prime time (which I admittedly doubt) then this decision is a bit strange. WP7 isn't really either (though it looks very promising). I can't help but feel that Elop was brought in for this particular reason... switch to WP7, so the board is to blame, Elop is just the fellow who has to execute this plan. I suppose the board didn't have any faith in MeeGo, for whatever reasons.

But it was Nokias own fault, it just slept while everyone was moving on, improvements on Symbian were always too little, too late. Same thing happened with Motorola, but their attempt at turning it all around worked well. We'll see if the same works for Nokia.

And anyway, Linux will be at least a major player in form of Android.

Oh and Bada? Really? It is the most pointless thing I have ever seen. It doesn't have a great UI, which is the selling point of WebOS and WP7. It isn't open + well supported, which is Androids selling point. And it isn't by Apple, which is the selling point for iOS. It's just a bland copy of Android, made to lock in the unfortunate ones who bought such a phone, so they stay with Samsung.

14 febbraio 2011 15:59  
Anonymous Anonimo ha detto...

I am dissapointed in the announcement from Nokia last week.

I do however have a few points of hope.

If you have a read of the full report on the MS site here it has an interesting disclaimer (and I quote)


Nokia and Microsoft have entered into a non-binding term sheet. The planned partnership remains subject to negotiations and execution of the definitive agreements by the parties and there can be no assurances that the definitive agreements would be entered into. [/quote]

The important part for me is the 'non-binding term agreement' meaning that the share holders could kick up a fuss (ie. when the staff walk out and refuse to work unless this agreement is reversed - as it will be bad news for finland in a jobs perspective).

If it is true that he code for maemo 'is ready' as you say, then releasing it in the spirit of open source may force things forward.

The other option is for intel to take a lead in the whole thing, and push Nokia to release the UI they have developed.

Either way, I was waiting for a maemo device, so unless something changes before the end of the month (when I am due to get a new mobile contract) I'll be disappointed not to have another option other than Android. WPx doesn't work for me as I use linux, I can't justify the expense of an iPhone, and don't see OpenMoko as ever being a mature 'user space' OS any time soon!


14 febbraio 2011 16:17  
Anonymous Anonimo ha detto...

"Business logics are floating several metres above my head"

you're wrong:

they are floating several metres _below_ your head, that's the problem ...

14 febbraio 2011 18:19  
Anonymous Anonimo ha detto...

a MeeGo phone will be released

Are you sure about that? The press release just says that a MeeGo device will be released. Most seem to think it'll be a tablet, not a phone. I hope it's the latter, but I'm not optimistic.

Just another disappointed N900 owner :-(

14 febbraio 2011 19:06  
Anonymous Anonimo ha detto...

Maybe we shall have some hope after all:

Support us.

15 febbraio 2011 13:11  
Anonymous Anonimo ha detto...

I sold my Nokia shares on Friday. It's unfortunate that Nokia won't be supporting MeeGo, although I m sure it would have been hard for them to sustain an open environment in such a capitalistic market for profit. The N900 was a success story, too bad they didn't capitlize on it by providing a solid Portrait mode and a better user experience through the ecosystem.

17 febbraio 2011 13:38  
Blogger Luis Diego ha detto...

I totally share your feelings. Its sad the turn that Nokia is taking towards Windows. Nevertheless, Intel is still fully supporting MeeGo, and I can't think of any bad reason of why we wouldn't want to have you over our side (yes, I'm an Intel employee - and a very proud N900 owner). Maybe you should send out your resume.. you never know! Go MeeGo and go open source! :)

17 febbraio 2011 16:00  
Anonymous Anonimo ha detto...

Meh, businesswise Meego does not exist, maybe if it had come out last September, who knows...but for now the situation is this: S3 is not working, iOS is not available and everybody and their grandma is using android. Like it or not, WP7 is the only viable option to have a chanche on the US market.

18 febbraio 2011 15:18  

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