Nokia today launched its first smartphone based on its Linux-based Maemo platform. The vendor said that the Maemo software – which has evolved from Nokia’s previous generation of Internet tablets – provides “a PC-like experience on a handset-sized device.” The world’s largest handset vendor will showcase the Nokia N900 phone at the annual Nokia World event in Stuttgart, Germany, next week. It will be available in select markets from October 2009 with an estimated retail price of EUR500 excluding sales taxes and subsidies, Nokia said. “It looks like Maemo, or at least a Linux derivative of some description, will play a key role for Nokia in high-end [products] over the next year or two,” Neil Mawston from Strategy Analytics told Reuters.
A move towards Maemo marks a shift away from Nokia’s reliance on Symbian, which currently powers its market-leading smartphone range. “Maemo is clearly far more flexible than Symbian, so it’s a better option for advanced devices using various display technologies and rapidly evolving user-interface software,” MKM Partners analyst Tero Kuittinen told Reuters. Such a move would also be a fillip for Linux, which is increasingly gaining traction in the mobile devices segment; it is also used as the basis for Google’s Android platform. Analysts note that Nokia’s strategy could be designed to curb declines in both its market share and average selling prices in the high-end segment. “Maemo’s got to be the best bet Nokia has in that battle.” said eQ Bank analyst Jari Honko.