Survival for Finnish phonemaker Nokia may mean picking its battles. Bleeding money, the carrier has reportedly abandoned its next-generation software pitch at the mid-market leaving its future in this segment in flux.
I. Meltemi -- Bright Hopes
Currently, Nokia is vying with Samsung for this segment where phones retail from around $100 to $200 off contract (or typically are free with a contract). Samsung has increasingly moved its mid-range product line away from a proprietary operating system, consolidating it under the Android operating system banner.
To counter Samsung's budget Android devices, Nokia planned a Linux-based operating system of its own, a refresh which would replace it Series 40 (S40) platform, powering Nokia's mid-range Asha lineup.
That refresh was dubbed "Meltemi".
Named after "the Greek word for dry summer winds that blow across the Aegean Sea from the north", the project was reportedly being led by Nokia EVP of Mobile Phones Mary McDowell.
II. Meltemi Becomes Nokia's Latest OS Casualty
But with Nokia committing to layoffs of 10,000 employees worldwide, many projects have been lost to the chaos -- and that appears to include Meltemi. The project's future appeared in jeopardy with the departure of EVP McDowell, announced in mid-June.
Reuters reports that the unofficial software project has been scrapped. The report's sources indicate that Meltemi phones would have been arriving this quarter -- Q3 2012 -- had the project survived.
This isn't the first operating system software scrapped by Nokia since it shacked up with Microsoft Windows Phone OS. Nokia quickly dismissed Symbian, its former high-end smartphone OS, committing to a complete phase-out. Before long it had also terminated its involvement in Meego -- a Linux-based operating system co-developed by Intel that might have eventually replaced Symbian.
Pete Cunningham an analyst with market research firm Canalys was not shocked by the latest development. In an interview with Reuters, he comments, "With the pressure to make extreme cost-savings it is little surprise that it has been cut."
But all hope for Nokia in the mid-market is not lost he says, "The important factor for Nokia is driving Windows Phones prices low enough to bridge the gap with the feature phones Asha range -- that should happen in 2013."