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Nokia unwraps MeeGo-powered N9 as firm pins down smartphone strategy for 2011

10 new Symbian handsets due in next 12 months
Nokia unwraps MeeGo-powered N9 as firm pins down smartphone strategy for 2011

Taking the wrapping off the MeeGo-powered N9 on the same day CEO Stephen Elop confirmed Nokia's intention to launch its first Windows Phones handset in 2011 might appear confusing to onlookers.

Add to that a commitment to launch up to 10 new Symbian handsets over the course of the next 12 months, and Nokia's smartphone strategy begins to look as complex as it is potentially counter-productive.

In truth, the unveiling of the N9 is no surprise. While Nokia dramatically scaled back its support for MeeGo following its strategic partnership with Microsoft, it was known that a single device would still see the light of day.

No token gesture

The N9, which sports a 3.9 inch AMOLED display and an 8MP wide angle Carl Zeiss autofocus sensor camera, is scheduled to be in stores "later this year".

As is now traditional for Nokia's high-end handsets, it'll be available in three different colours black, cyan and magenta sporting either 16GB or 64GB of storage.

But it's the N9's webOS-esque focus on gesture controls that Nokia believes will ensure the device stands out.

"With the Nokia N9, we wanted to design a better way to use a phone," said head of design Marko Ahtisaari.

"To do this we innovated in the design of the hardware and software together. We reinvented the home key with a simple gesture: a swipe from the edge of the screen. The experience sets a new bar for how natural technology can feel.

"And this is just the beginning. The details that make the Nokia N9 unique - the industrial design, the all-screen user experience, and the expressive Qt framework for developers - will evolve in future Nokia products."

New start, old OS

Interestingly, the N9 will fight for shelf space not just against phones from rival OEMs, but also Nokia's first Windows Phone devices which Microsoft will be hoping can make a major splash before the end of 2011 and an entirely new range of Symbian handsets.

As well as rolling out the latest version of Symbian, dubbed 'Anna', to existing devices, Nokia claims its continued commitment to the OS means new phones will also see the light of day.

"Earlier this year, we outlined a comprehensive strategy to change our course," added Elop.

"Innovation is at the heart of our strategy, and today we took important steps to demonstrate a new pace of innovation at Nokia. It's the beginning of a new era for Nokia."

Spreading its base

Though Elop is naturally keen to bill this multi-OS smartphone strategy as a fresh start for Nokia the firm's CEO nothing but open in regards to his view of the company the decision to support Windows Phone, Symbian and MeeGo at the same time has the air of the company in messy transition.

Reaction to Nokia's partnership with Microsoft was initially mixed, and while analysts broadly welcomed the company's change in tact, those inside Nokia were reportedly angry with the decision to drop support for Symbian in the years to come.

In response, Nokia repeatedly stated Symbian would be gradually phased out rather that cut off in one fell swoop.

By launching ten new phones, aimed at the lower end, it appears that gradual slowdown will take rather longer than anticipated, and the addition of an entirely new OS into the mix with N9 risks leaving Windows Phone somewhat out in the cold when the first devices hit Europe later this year.


[source: Nokia]