Nokia Meltemi: A new Linux based mobile operating system specifically built for low end phones

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According to “people familiar with the matter”, which is hands down the fanciest way to describe an anonymous tipster, Nokia is in the process of developing a brand spanking new mobile operating system called Meltemi. The project is being led by Mary McDowell, Head of Nokia Mobile Phones, it’ll be based on Linux, and it’s going to be targeted to “low-end phones” according to The Wall Street Journal. Now what’s a low-end phone to Nokia? Something that doesn’t run Windows Phone or something that can barely do more than handle talking and texting? Meltemi is a Greek word for the dry summer winds that blow across the Aegean Sea from the north, so … yea, we’re not smart enough to flesh out what that can possible mean.

What we do know is that Nokia needs to make up their mind when it comes to their software strategy. They dumped Symbian for Windows Phone, going so far as to kick the Symbian folks out of the company and move them to Accenture. In the low-end department there’s Series 30 and Series 40, the former for devices that cost less than what you spend every weekend at the bar with your friends, the latter for devices that we’d classify as midrange. Where will Meltemi sit? More importantly how big is the staff developing Meltemi, what’s the roadmap for the operating system, will contributions from the community be accepted, how much money will Nokia pour into the developing the project?

Nokia World is coming up in less than a month and we’re pretty sure someone is going to ask the Finnish handset maker about Meltemi. Right now Nokia isn’t saying anything, which isn’t a surprise, but we can just can’t help slapping our foreheads and wondering why they killed MeeGo, a Linux based OS for high end smarpthones, to work on Meltemi, a Linux based OS for low-end dumbphones.

Any thoughts?

Update: Quick conversation with Eldar from Mobile-Review:

  • Anonymous

    Nokia jumped, and is now sailing through treacherous waters and they are doing quick maneuvers. We can see in a years time if the hand guiding the rudder was steadfast or twitching in panic. At the moment it seems latter, but perhaps Nokia insiders see the rocks better than us on the shore.

  • Anonymous

    Nokia jumped, and is now sailing through treacherous waters and they are doing quick maneuvers. We can see in a years time if the hand guiding the rudder was steadfast or twitching in panic. At the moment it seems latter, but perhaps Nokia insiders see the rocks better than us on the shore.

  • Anonymous

    Nokia jumped, and is now sailing through treacherous waters and they are doing quick maneuvers. We can see in a years time if the hand guiding the rudder was steadfast or twitching in panic. At the moment it seems latter, but perhaps Nokia insiders see the rocks better than us on the shore.

  • Anonymous

    Nokia jumped, and is now sailing through treacherous waters and they are doing quick maneuvers. We can see in a years time if the hand guiding the rudder was steadfast or twitching in panic. At the moment it seems latter, but perhaps Nokia insiders see the rocks better than us on the shore.

  • Anonymous

    Nokia jumped, and is now sailing through treacherous waters and they are doing quick maneuvers. We can see in a years time if the hand guiding the rudder was steadfast or twitching in panic. At the moment it seems latter, but perhaps Nokia insiders see the rocks better than us on the shore.

  • Anonymous

    Nokia jumped, and is now sailing through treacherous waters and they are doing quick maneuvers. We can see in a years time if the hand guiding the rudder was steadfast or twitching in panic. At the moment it seems latter, but perhaps Nokia insiders see the rocks better than us on the shore.

  • Anonymous

    Nokia jumped, and is now sailing through treacherous waters and they are doing quick maneuvers. We can see in a years time if the hand guiding the rudder was steadfast or twitching in panic. At the moment it seems latter, but perhaps Nokia insiders see the rocks better than us on the shore.

  • Anonymous

    Maybe this is the future S40 code. At least we have N9 to play with and we can forget the madness for a bit.

  • http://antoinerjwright.com Antoine RJ Wright

    Seems like, at least looking at Eldar’s comment, that this is a repurposing of much of the work that Nokia did to make Maemo a phone platform. Add the Qt UI on top and you have the reasons for the N9 and N950 as being limited but developer-focused devices. S30 and S40 aren’t able to scale for Nokia, which they admitted years ago and this is where Symbian S60 was supposed to drop downmarket to cover such a change. Seems like that “future disruption” is basically a mobile OS, Qt-centered, Linux based, and probably with just enough tweak-ability to it to scale to those regions WinPhone can’t go to fast enough. Without their own services, this would be a problem. With Life Tools and Maps, maybe not.

  • Prasenjit SIngh Bist

    First Eldar is gone mad give him some rat poison everything NOKIA is doomed he will say that bloody robber satan devil ,

    well the good part is I can see a brilliant Nokia strategy see they are changing everythin top end low end every thing. Nokia Meego 1.2 harmattan is code complete so a small team can now help to maintain new features like porting to new device form factors or applications but the major coding is done that is true with all OS even now apple adds small features every year the main OS was written back in 2007. So, Nokia now shifting focus on low end smart phones with meltemi Qt and swipe UI is awesome just think about gorgeous UI on gorgeous linux software with awsome hardware from NOKIA. Stephen Elop is the man for NOKIA great visionary.

  • Anonymous

    LOL’s at asking Eldar for “inside info”.
    Zero credibility left….

  • Sfdasdfds

    An old Symbian dumb phone can do more then the average user does with their smart phone.
    Studies have shown this, and it also shows that the average user have no clue how capable a dumb (feature) phone actually is. Apart from a usually poor camera, they are quite capable.

    Anyway.. the Meltemi based phones will have features that will in many cases surpass the iPhone 3GS, and will have many of the same (or better feature of the iPhone4).
    SoC development i quite rapid. The pricedrops when it comes to parts like chips, displays and memory is high. Cameras become better and cheaper. LED flash diodes are also way cheaper.
    The amount of rare earth minerals in new phones is redused, as is the amount of gold and other expensive metals.
    They will be able to surf the web better then they (feature phones) do now. They will take better pictures, the screens will have better image quality and they will have more memory.
    The CPU power will be much better. It will be ready for new HTML 5. HTML5 is intended to subsume not only HTML 4,  but XHTML 1 and DOM Level 2 HTML as well

    Just look at a new Samsung top of the line phone. They will soon almost exclusively deliver smart phones running Android, Bada or Windows on 4 core SoCs or more. That gives a cheaper feature phone access to “old” single and double core SoCs for just a few dollars.

    There will soon be even less of a difference between a feature phone and a so called smart phone. Super simple phones will still be made. Usually they will have a monocrome screen, maybe made of e-paper. It will have a LED flash light, and a FM radio. It might be able to run java and offer a super simple web surfing experience. It will have superior call and stand by time.
    I have one phone like that now, as a back-up phone. I charge it about every 3-4 week. The call quality is very good, and it is of course easy to use.
    When the process technology gets better, these phones will use even less power. So they can fit a cheaper and smaller battery – or offer another week before it needs charging.

    • Pekka

      Meltemi is made to scale very well over several speeds and cores too. This means it can be used on the newest high tech phones too.
      I guess it is Nokias back-up plan. They never go “all in”, but keeps a back-up option available. Most Nokia apps can be ported to Meltemi with ease.
      Many think this is all new and that they have abandoned MeeGo. This is more or less wrong. It is a development, keeping the features they like – and adding new features. HTML 5 specs will be ready in 2012 some time. Meltemi will support this from the start.
      We have also worked on how the phone/OS will interact with your cars onboard infotainment system.

      If I was the boss of Nokia I would have continued with MeeGo and released a few phones and a slate/pad. Then I would have released Meltemi as an improvement. Not tell reporters that the Linux OS is dead and we will focus on Windows all the way.
      Due to regulations we can not give to much info on the subject or include screen shots and so on. It is probably a good idea to release this OS first in Africa and India/Bangladesh because they will not be afraid to use it and its features. Then Europe can come later.
      Since the OS scales so well, I would have released a killer phone for the geeks too.

      Just wanted to add that:
      10 years ago (January 2002) my Nokia 6510 had voice dial and voice command support. It had almost 14 days of stand by time, and is was not a high end phone back then either. I just found it is a drawer, so I started it up. It’s tiny – and I think I will use it as my back-up phone. Fits in the zippo pocket in my jeans too.

      • Anonymous

        I’m so frustrated by the lack of detailed info about Meltemi.
        I hope we’ll hear much more about it very soon…

        I gave up on supporting Nokia quite some time ago.
        If Meltemi impresses me enough, I “may” come back to Nokia.

        Till then I’ll be happy with my N9, Android, & Tizen (maybe) phones.
        I’ll also get my 1st WP in Q4, unless the iP5 is amazing.

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