When Nokia and Microsoft signed up to be best-WP7-buddies, Nokia’s path to future smartphones seemed pretty clear. We recently took a look at the company’s plans for the next couple years, consisting of a gradual redirection of smartphone resources from Symbian^3-powered models to WP7 devices. There’s still a wildcard in the mix, though, as we haven’t been sure what to expect of Nokia’s MeeGo/Maemo development. The company excluded MeeGo from the future plans it revealed, making us think that continued work on the OS would find itself relegated to the back burner. A posting for an upcoming session at May’s MeeGo conference makes us reconsider just what role these systems will play in Nokia’s future, as the company will discuss “Harmattan”, the next generation of Maemo with MeeGo compatibility.
Harmattan is Maemo version 6, acting like a stepping-stone over to MeeGo. The key to this relationship is a set of shared APIs which will let compatible apps work on either system. This conference session is planned to introduce developers to the idea of Harmattan, explain how it fits into the MeeGo picture, and generate interest in the OS. Especially important will be talks on how to promote apps for the system, and keep users aware of what’s compatible with what.
It seems clear that Nokia is more interested in MeeGo than continuing Maemo development, which has thus far stuck to tablets and the N900 phone. Harmattan looks like the bridge being offered to migrate users to future MeeGo devices, so there may be brighter future for these OSes after all, instead of what Nokia’s broad WP7-shift had us fearing. All we need now is a Harmattan-powered smartphone.