If the original iPhone was hailed as the Apple Jesus Phone for its power to captivate, wow, and fascinate audiences, then Nokia’s N8 may the savior phone for the world’s largest phone maker. Nokia’s CEO says of the N8: “Delivering the N8, with a high-quality user experience, will mark the beginning of our renewal. We will achieve our potential and regain high-end leadership in our industry.” After initially dismissing the iPhone like many smartphone makers early on, Nokia has since had a hard time keeping up in the smartphone race. The company, however, has a plan to move full-steam ahead, and the N8 is a transitional phone that will be part of the transformation.
In a way, the N8 represents a bittersweet device for Nokia, which has pledged to move away from Symbian for its high-end flagship N-series devices. Bitter in that it will be the last phone on an OS that’s all too familiar for Nokia’s fans, but sweet in that it does represent the fantastic build quality and engineering that Nokia has to offer.
Instead, for its high-end offerings Nokia will be committing to MeeGo, an OS that is the result of its partnership with Intel’s Moblin OS and its own Maemo OS, which provides openness, power, and potential against more locked down systems such as the iPhone, and to a certain extent Android.
Additionally, as Symbian^3 may be a short-lived OS since Symbian^4 devices will start hitting in early 2011, results from Nokia’s new Maemo strategy won’t be seen for some time. It’s unclear if Nokia will alienate devoted Symbian owners, but the company seems to be employing a Microsoft-like strategy as it abandons the old and familiar (though retaining full support and will be releasing Symbian devices in non-flagship devices) and moves forward with the new MeeGo OS. In this sense, Nokia’s N8 may not be the phone to save the company, but it may mark the beginning of a new Nokia–a phoenix to rise from the ashes. Whether MeeGo will have more success in the US than Symbian is also not clear, but it does present a powerful alternative to popular OSes if Nokia can attract developers and build a great app library for its Ovi Store.