Nokia is rumored to be developing an open-source OS for its low-end handsets, codenamed Meltemi, despite having failed to drive MeeGo to the point where it could save the company’s smartphones. Apparently being led by Nokia EVP of Mobile Phones Mary McDowell, so the WSJ‘s sources tell them, Meltemi named after “the Greek word for dry summer winds that blow across the Aegean Sea from the north.”
Whatever the etymology, the rumors are likely to surprise long-time Nokia watchers who have seen the company struggle to find its footing amid the cellphone OS shake-up of the past five years. MeeGo -development a collaborative effort between Nokia and Intel – supposedly fell well short of what then-new Nokia CEO Stephen Elop felt was required for the company’s smartphone roadmap, and the decision was taken to axe existing plans and throw in with Microsoft’s Windows Phone.
According to arch-insider Eldar Murtazin, Meltemi will use a subset of Nokia’s original Maemo team, with the OS itself using the same UI. However the underlying kernel will be different.
MeeGo has since been swallowed up in the new Tizen project, and Nokia has watched as its position in entry-level and developing markets has been challenged by a growing number of Chinese brands such as ZTE and Huawei. Whether Meltemi can deliver on the cost-effectiveness that cheap smartphones require, as well satisfy as the increasingly sophisticated demands of their audiences, remains to be seen.