Despite killing Maemo, Nokia contributed more work to the Linux kernel in 2011 than Google

Google’s mobile operating system, Android, is based on Linux. Nokia on the other hand ships a majority of their smartphones based on the Symbian operating system. Back in February of last year, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop told the world that the Finnish handset vendor would get rid of Symbian, release just one Linux based (Maemo/MeeGo) smartphone, and that the future was going to be all about Windows Phone. Right on schedule, Nokia shipped their first Windows Phone on November 15th, roughly five months ago. Why do I bother bringing any of this up? Because the Linux Foundation just issued a report highlighting the state of the Linux kernel, and more importantly they list which companies have done the most work to improve the open source software project. Nokia was responsible for 1.2% of the changes made to the Linux kernel last year. And Google? Just 1%.

How can this be? Didn’t Nokia give up on Linux? This is where “Meltami” comes in. We first heard about it in September of last year in a report from The Wall Street Journal. They said that Nokia was hard at work on a Linux based feature phone operating system that would scale down to ultra low end devices. More recently, Shaun Murray, who runs a software company in the UK, recently left a comment on an All About Symbian story discussing Qt 5. His exact words: “Meltemi also popped up in the source for QtSensors before getting deleted.”

The evidence is hard to ignore. Nokia is indeed going to take Series 40 and throw it into a flaming trash can. They should too, since Nokia’s feature phone division actually generates money, whereas the smartphone unit doesn’t. It makes sense to invest in “the next billion”, as Nokia puts it, because today’s mobile operating systems don’t scale down to $50 and $75 devices.

Update: The word Meltami has definitely appeared in Nokia’s source code.

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