Geeks want to save MeeGo

The official launch of Nokia N9 last week has got both excited and frustrated reception. Excited, because Nokia N9 has, by many people’s opinion, the best touch screen UI Nokia has done so far. The device itself is nice too. But frustration is caused by the fact Nokia has announced N9 will be first and only MeeGo phone coming from Nokia.

What’s uncommon, even writers for U.S. tech news media and blogs, such as Engadget, have been excited about MeeGo.

There have also been reports some Nokia executives would have still wanted to give MeeGo more time to prove its potential. Helsingin Sanomat (HS), the largest newspaper in Finland, wrote earlier this month (in Finnish, read Google’s bad translation in English) that the sudden time-out of Nokia’s CTO Rich Green would have  resulted of disputes about MeeGo.

According to HS, Green would have wanted to continue MeeGo in Nokia’s products. Nokia has not confirmed this, and according to Wall Street Journal news Green is actually taking a medical leave of absense.

Anyway, Rich Green has been very enthusiastic about Nokia N9. ”I’m interested in hearing what people say about our MeeGo phone. It’s a piece of art in many ways”, he said in my interview in April.

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If, and as it seems, Nokia does not see a chance for an ecosystem and commercial potential in MeeGo anymore, why couldn’t and wouldn’t they set it free as 100% open source (except for some specific commercial drivers, etc) or separate it to a small subsidiary? That could later spin-off on its own to a new startup like they did with Sports Tracker. It’s now run by a Helsinki-based small startup called Sports Tracker Technologies Ltd.

As Pekka Oilinki suggests in his forum post ’How to save MeeGo?’:

”Or MeeGo would simply be an subsidiary of Nokia which would be allowed to create it’s own, independent, mobile ecosystem. MeeGo team would be allowed be thinking things different from ’old Nokia’ and create their own services around the platform. There are so many possibilities to go forward without the heavy bag of old Nokia thinking.”

Nokia has had an initiative called Nokia Technopolis Innovation Mill (with a few Finnish partners) where they have released ”ideas and concepts they don’t need or can’t take advantage of” for others to use, for free or a nominal price. As far as I know, Sports Tracker cost some five figure amount of euros for its developers, and I recall they got to an outside investor too.

When it spun off, Sports Tracker had over six million users. The software was and is still free, and the developers are now trying to build a business as entrepreneurs for example selling extra features, like Polar Wearlink Bluetooth heart rate transmitter. Maybe this same model could work with MeeGo?