Why is Nokia keeping quiet about the N9 OS?

Nokia N9
The Nokia N9. What OS did you say it was running again?

Oh look! Nokia's got a new phone! Let's see what the press release says.

"Nokia today announced the Nokia N9, built for people who appreciate a stunning blend of design and the latest smartphone technology."

Cool! I like Nokia kit. I wonder, what OS does it run?

"The Nokia N9 introduces an innovative new design where the home key is replaced by a simple gesture: a swipe."

Sounds good. What OS is that, then?

"Home views... extreme product making... The body is precision-machined from a single piece of polycarbonate and flows seamlessly into beautiful curved glass."

I definitely like the sound of that. What OS does it run?

"The Nokia N9 also packs the latest in camera, navigation and audio technology for a great all-round experience."

Yes, yes, yes, I'd expect that from Nokia. What OS did you say it was running again?

"With the Nokia N9, we wanted to design a better way to use a phone. To do this we innovated in the design of the hardware and software together."

Yes, it's very nice. When you say "software", what software do you mean, exactly?

"The details that make the Nokia N9 unique - the industrial design, the all-screen user experience, and the expressive Qt framework for developers - will evolve in future Nokia products."

Aha! Qt! So it's not a Windows Phone phone. Just to clarify, what OS is it?

"The 8-megapixel... near field communication (NFC).... easily share images... Bluetooth... three colours... More information about the Nokia N9 can be found at: http://swipe.nokia.com."

And that's the end of the press release. Did you spot the missing word?

That's right. MeeGo.

Meego-a-go-go? No.

Not that you'd know it from the press release or product site, but Nokia's N9 runs MeeGo. I know that marketing is about selling the sizzle, not the steak, but the lack of the M-word is still weird. High-end smartphones are geek toys, and we geeks care about operating systems.

I suspect that the reason Nokia's keeping schtum about MeeGo because promoting it right now would be like urging you to bet on a horse that's already in the van on its way to the glue factory. The N9 is Nokia's first MeeGo phone, and I wouldn't want to bet on Nokia making many - or even any - more.

MeeGo doesn't fit with the new Nokia strategy. At the top end, it's Windows Phone all the way; at the lower end, there's Symbian Anna. That's two ecosystems Nokia needs to nourish. Does anybody think it has the resources or inclination to support and promote three?

There simply isn't room for MeeGo any more - not in Nokia, anyway. You could see that from February's press release announcing the Windows Phone partnership. "MeeGo will place increased emphasis on longer-term market exploration of next-generation devices, platforms and user experiences." That's tech-speak for "you're dumped. I'm seeing Simon now. Let's still be friends."

In February, Nokia promised that "Nokia still plans to ship a MeeGo-related product later this year." The N9 is it. Don't hold your breath waiting for more.


Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.