Reports have emerged that Nokia is developing a Linux based OS for feature phones called "Meltemi".
It seems to be aimed for the company’s lower end range of phones which would not be able to run even on the stripped down Tango version of the Windows Mobile platform. The OS is meant for emerging markets, which Nokia refers to as the "next billion", where smartphones still haven’t gotten a solid foothold.
Low end phones currently account for more than 47 of the company’s sales, according to second quarter results and the OS update would seem to be a bid to maintain the company’s strong position in the emerging and lower end phone market.
Nokia famously abandoned support for its Symbian and MeeGo (which was being developed in collaboration with Intel) platforms and this project indicates that the company wants to develop their own OS instead of using a platform from another company.
There were already confirmed reports that Nokia was trying to bring a touch interface to its Series 40 phones and the Meltemi project seems to be a step in that direction. Symbian 40 is currently the OS Nokia uses on low end phones and Meltemi is going to aim to replace it completely and “do more” on similar cheap hardware.
Meltemi is not expected to compete with the like of Android, iOS and Windows Phone though.
Nokia has already chosen the Windows Mobile platform over Android for its higher end phones and they have stresses that it is the company’s main focus. But the lower end smartphone market is set to become the largest smartphone market segment and sales reports indicate that cheaper smartphones are selling much more than their higher costing counterparts.
The Meltemi project is being led by Mary McDowell, the handset maker’s executive vice president in charge of mobile phones claims the Wall Street Journal.
However a spokesman for Nokia declined to give a concrete comment on the company’s future products or technologies saying “our Mobile Phones team has a number of exciting projects in the works that will help connect the next billion consumers to the Internet.”