|The story of Nokia's Maemo and MeeGo|
|By Thom Holwerda on 2012-10-11 21:41:35|
|It's a long read - but totally and utterly worth it. After interviewing ten former and current Nokia employees, and combining their insider information with publicly available information, Sampsa Kurri has written a long and detailed article about the history of Maemo and MeeGo within Nokia, and everything that went wrong - which is a lot. It's sad tale, one that reads almost like a manual on how to not run a large company. Still, between the bad decisions and frustrations, there's a red thread of hope that leads to Jolla.|
|I had the N800|
|By sukru on 2012-10-11 22:30:41|
I was very enthusiastic about my N800. It was before netbooks, and definitely before any functional tablets. I was able to ssh to my device, install Last.fm application, or experimental versions of Firefox. |
On the other hand, the internal camera worked with nothing except the Nokia app (not even the included Skype). The on board OpenGL accelerator worked with exactly nothing (even after 4 years they were still discussing whether to open the drivers or not).
So I had to sell the device. Even though I liked it, my understanding is virtually no-one at Nokia did so.
|- Score: 4|
|By jared_wilkes on 2012-10-11 23:27:50|
> Remember that we're talking about 2005 and earlier. There was no iPhone, no Android, no iPad. Yet, we have people inside Nokia who were working on things that were far, far ahead of their time - only to be frustrated by incompetent management and bad decisions. |
Remember that almost every part of it was farmed out, multiple times, including the UI... and they weren't able to deliver a marketable (but still dead on arrival) product until 2010, and it took several years just to settle on a toolkit, never mind a UI.
When it's Nokia, it's "far, far ahead of their time." When it's Apple -- at best 6 months to a year behind (in this specific race but actually easily ahead with the longest, most cohesive history of exploring this type of technology -- really, the cellphone portion of these devices is this decade's modem; the mobile revolution right now is about UI, UX, application frameworks, integration of hardware and software, content syncing, content and app stores, etc.) and able to execute in 2 years rather than 5 -- it's nothing innovative. Every innovation had already been explored for decades (and apparently all that time, Apple did nothing but sell shiny boxes to idiots). Apple just buys others parts; Nokia..? oh, they buy every part, the UI, the toolkit, and change everything every six months, linse rather repeat, making the wrong move almost every time for 5 straight years... How was Nokia far ahead of their time, again?
> ... only to be frustrated by incompetent management and bad decisions.
I love that "only", that "frustrated." As if competent management and good decisions are only minor factors in the success of a business. As if it's just an itch you can't scratch that frustrates you when your business implodes, you contract your future to another struggling business (MSFT), and you are likely to not exist in a couple of years.
Edited 2012-10-11 23:35 UTC
|- Score: -1|
|This article breaks my heart; explains so many things|
|By earksiinni on 2012-10-11 23:28:02|
Ah, Nokia, I hardly knew ye! |
I own a 770 and an N800, and I loved both devices to death. I even ended up volunteering as a package maintainer and backported the latest version of the Glib stack last year (though I never released it). As the above poster mentioned, this was before netbooks and decent tablets. The cachet that came with an N800 with a portable Bluetooth keyboard folded out and Abiword running was indescribable. Many turned heads.
Unfortunately, I could hardly recommend it to anyone. Maemo was constantly plagued with bugs, some that seemed incredibly trivial and would take almost no time to fix with some specialized knowledge of the internals. The community was always perplexed when Nokia employees would report that they couldn't replicate widespread issues. Now that I know about the internal divisions and the heavy reliance on subcontractors, it makes perfect sense.
Pre-N900 Maemo also represented the ultimate in a now forgotten vision of tablet computing, that of the stylus-based tablet. N800/N810 tried to make the Hildon UI more touch-friendly, but it remained primarily stylus based and was very, very good at it.
Back in 2007 when I got my N800 I was the coolest kid on the block. Now I'm just another chump waiting for a pay raise so that I can buy the Samsung Note II when it comes out.
|- Score: 7|
|Comment by shmerl|
|By shmerl on 2012-10-11 23:28:19|
Very nice historic review. It helps to understand many things which just seem very bizarre from the outside. |
Though in the end fails to outline the history of Mer (which Jolla is using as base), which came out of Meego ashes as a community driven and meritocractically governed project. At least it mentions it in relation to Jolla.
|- Score: 3|
|By earksiinni on 2012-10-11 23:34:54|
> > ... only to be frustrated by incompetent management and bad decisions. |
I love that "only". As if competent management and good decisions are minor factors in the success of a business.
No..."only" here is being used modally to mean "inevitably" with the connotation of "unfortunately". You are reading it the sense of "merely", as in "to be frustrated only by incompetent management and bad decisions."
|- Score: 7|
|By jared_wilkes on 2012-10-11 23:44:21|
I understand Thom's intent and don't mean to distort it. I'm just playing off it because, even with his intended and the received meaning, those words still convey undertones of Nokia being great, ahead of their time, innovative, truly building something, truly innovating, and truly succeeding at creating a revolutionary new device/system -- not just through the subconscious undertones of "only" that I am playing off of but through the entire content of his post. |
And in his final praise of Nokia, he then brushes away their massive failure as if it's a quirk of history rather than truly massive, systemic incompetence, lack of vision, and lack of software tools that could build a sustaining platform.
|- Score: 3|
|By shmerl on 2012-10-11 23:46:51|
It wasn't the lack of resources or tools. It was a severe mismanagement of the former that led to the failure. |
Edited 2012-10-11 23:47 UTC
|- Score: 3|
|By earksiinni on 2012-10-11 23:49:35|
|+1. Your edit made that more clear; I had started writing before the edit posted =)|
|- Score: 3|
|By Neolander on 2012-10-12 06:10:41|
Well, you have to give it to Nokia : while Apple just chose to throw away Copland altogether and produce yet another UNIX clone instead, Nokia actually managed to fix enough of the problems that they encountered during their development hell to release a working product (the N9), which I believe is a fairly unique achievement in the computer industry ! :P |
More seriously, I think that many people around here feel sympathetic towards the old Nokia because, as is apparent in the article, it was one of the few remaining tech companies with engineers in power. Though it is also made obvious here that this approach has its problems, especially in large companies, there is something saddening about the way executives don't understand what their employees are doing these days, and can only think in terms of paying the bills and selling to the largest number. That may be a safer way to keep a company afloat and profitable, but it is alienating for workers and surely does not help innovation.
Edited 2012-10-12 06:15 UTC
|- Score: 5|
|Complacency killed the cat|
|By manjabes on 2012-10-12 06:38:44|
|This only solidifies the impression that the complacency of Nokias Symbian crew bundled with the belief that "we R Nokia, teh king once & for all!!11one" is what killed all hope for Nokia. Not to mention the actual quality of the software the symbianese were putting out. In that light, it becomes more and more difficult to feel sorry for the laid off staff. Kinda makes it very hard to not say that they had it coming. Although that makes me as a hard-core Nokia fan very sad.|
|- Score: 3|