This evening, at the official N900 meet-up in London, Tanja Sauvola from the Maemo marketing team revealed in a Q&A with bloggers (after giving the first of the evening’s three presentations) that Nokia plan to drop Symbian from the entire ‘top end’ N-Series range of handsets in favour of Maemo by 2012.
The transition will be a gradual one with further Symbian-based N-Series handsets already in development, she said. Whilst the N900 was acknowledged to be a ‘bridge’ device firmly aimed at the developer and enthusiast community, subsequent devices will target the mass-market and Maemo-based devices will grow to fill all of Nokia’s flagship range by 2012. There are no current plans for Maemo devices in the new video-focused X-Series range or popular E-Series enterprise range, but Nokia had been surprised by the enthusiasm with which the N900 and the latest incarnation of Maemo have been received so further expansion isn’t out of the question.
‘Maemo Select’, the current community-portal for Maemo applications, will initially run alongside Nokia’s Ovi store, which is due to launch for the N900 via a software update next month. However, in the longer term it too will be retired leaving only the Ovi Store as the official Nokia source for free and paid applications promoted on Symbian and Maemo devices.
Although there has been much speculation about the future of Symbian and Maemo and the relationship between the two – Nokia intends to retain both, producing development tools that will work across the two – this is the first official confirmation I am aware of that Symbian is to be relegated from the symbolic N-Series brand. It’s a bold move by Nokia, but a smart one… Recently Symbian’s greatest strength, it’s legacy and maturity, has begun to look like an Achilles heal as newer platforms have captured consumers’ imaginations with faster development and better user experience. A fresh-start was needed at the top-end and it’s come just in time…
Update: These changes were hinted-at in August according to this Techcrunch piece covering an article by the German Financial Times.