Sinking Nokia wants to ditch Symbian and MeeGo

Nokia has halted development of its first MeeGo-powered smartphone in anticipation of a major strategic shift that could see the mobile company embrace third-party operating systems, such as Android or even Windows Phone 7.

“We are standing on a burning platform. Apple disrupted the market by redefining the smartphone and attracting developers to a closed, but very powerful ecosystem,” Nokia CEO Stephen Elop explained in an internal memo obtained and published by Engadget.

“[And Google] created a platform that attracts app devs, service providers and hardware manufacturers. Android came in at the high-end, they are now winning the mid-range, and quickly they are going downstream to phones under €100.”

According to Elop, Nokia has fallen behind in the market, missed “big” trends and lost time.

“We thought we were making the right decisions; but, with the benefit of hindsight, we now find ourselves years behind. The first iPhone shipped in 2007, and we still don’t have a product that is close to their experience.

“[Yes], we have some brilliant sources of innovation inside Nokia, but we are not bringing it to market fast enough. We thought MeeGo would be a platform for winning high-end smartphones. However, at this rate, by the end of 2011, we might have only one MeeGo product in the market.

“Additionally, Symbian is proving to be an increasingly difficult environment in which to develop to meet the continuously expanding consumer requirements, leading to slowness in product development and also creating a disadvantage when we seek to take advantage of new hardware platforms.”

Meanwhile, Canalys analyst Tim Shepherd told Reuters that Nokia has to decide if maintaining MeeGo is of strategic value in the short or longer term.

“If it believes MeeGo will not deliver value, it should divert resources elsewhere… One good thing about Stephen Elop is that he is not emotionally attached to any platform.”