Nokia intros the first, and last, Meego phone

Nokia announced a handful of new phones today, including the first to be powered by its own Meego operating system.

It will also be its last. The Nokia N9 finally became official after much hype and many delays at a media event in Singapore today.

Meego was to be Nokia’s answer to Android and the iPhone as the company struggled to find a new voice in the rapidly changing smartphone market.

Alas, it ended up being too little too late for the once ominously dominant mobile phone maker. The competing smartphone platforms effectively pushed Nokia out of almost every big box store in the US and severely damaged its retail presence in Europe.

The company had no choice but to do what just a few years ago would have been unthinkable – agree to license someone else’s operating system for its phones. By the end of year, Nokia will show off a whole new line of devices powered by Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 software.

Until then, though, it still wanted to bring the N9 – the little phone that could – to market. It will go down as an artifact as the only phone to be powered by Meego. While it was probably poised to be a flop when it was first announced, it may gain traction from phone enthusiasts or those with a sense of curiosity.

The N9 is also noteworthy because it’s one of the first phones to incorporate NFC technology, which may some day allow users to use the phone as their credit card. It comes pre-installed with a special NFC version of Angry Birds.

Nokia also announced three lower-end phones running on its S40 platform, which is popular among budget-conscious consumers, usually around the $0 – $50 range after a service contract subsidy.

The Singapore event, of course, also brought the Nokia-Microsoft deal back to the topic of conversation. Nokia CEO Stephen Elop was quoted by The Register as saying, “I have increased confidence that we will launch our first device based on the Windows Phone platform later this year, and we (will) ship our products in volume in 2012.”