Open source groups attack Nokia's divorce of MeeGo

Nokia has left Intel and Meego out in the cold as it divorces them to begin its new affair with Microsoft.

The Linux Foundation, which according to Intel is the primary product leader of MeeGo, has called Nokia’s stab in the back “disappointing”, while other open source groups have said Stephen Elop has “jumped his company off the burning platform” and “straight into the fire.”

Nokia announced its new partnership with Microsoft officially on Friday – just in time to break Valentine Day hearts – when both companies claimed they would use the partnership to form a “new global mobile ecosystem” and “jointly create market-leading mobile products and services designed to offer consumers, operators and developers unrivalled choice and opportunity.”  

Nokia also said it would adopt Microsoft’s smartphone strategy and add its expertise in topics such as imaging, hardware design and language support.

However, this means that Nokia no longer wants anything to do with MeeGo, a partnership it only announced this time last year. 

Jim Zemlin, executive director at The Linux Foundation, told TechEye that he wasn’t happy with the decision.

“The Linux Foundation is disappointed in Nokia’s decision to choose Microsoft as the primary platform for its mobile phones. Tough times give birth to difficult decisions that we don’t always agree with, but open source is — at its core — about choice,” he said.

“We believe that open source software is more than a sum of its parts, and the market is currently bearing that out. The Linux Foundation is here to enable collaboration among its members and the Linux community, and we invite participation in MeeGo and any of our other many projects and programs. In its 20th anniversary year, Linux is a significant underpinning in every computing segment. Full steam ahead.”

Eric Raymond, president at the Open Source organisation also had a few choice words claiming that Stephen Elop had “failed to resolve Nokia’s drift and lack of a strategic focus.”

He wrote in a blog post: “Instead of addressing this problem, Elop plans to institutionalise it by splitting the company into two business units that will pursue different – and, in fact, mutually opposing – strategies.

“The plan Elop has pulled out from under wraps effectively splits Nokia in two. The “Smart Devices” piece own MeeGo and Symbian Smartphones, and is expected to work with Microsoft on developing a portfolio of WP7 phones.

“The “Mobile Phones” part is expected to “leverage its innovation and strength in growth markets to connect the next billion people and bring them affordable access to the Internet and applications.” The vagueness of this remit is telling. Clearly “Mobile Phones” is expected to milk the Third-World market for Symbian dumb-phones as long as it can, but “affordable access to the Internet and applications” implies low-cost smartphones as well.”

Intel also had a few things to say about its philandering other half, however it vowed to stay with MeeGo.

A spokesman told TechEye: “Although Intel and Nokia are prominent supporters  – Meego is the product of the Linux Foundation and as such enjoys wider support and resources as an Open Source initiative.”

The company said it would stick by MeeGo, claiming: “We remain committed to innovating this open source platform and on collaborating with Nokia and other industry players on its development – which should benefit users of mobile devices beyond smartphones.”

The cracks in the Nokia/Meego relationship began last year when Nokia’s MeeGo Devices VP, Ari Jaaksi, resigned.

The uncertainty carried on through to November when we heard that developers were none too trusting of the OS. Reasons for this included that it was late to market, it showed no signs of a solid app framework and didn’t have enough to differentiate it from other popular choices.

And following this it seems Nokia listened closely to its marriage counsellors, or analysts, who last week wrote an open letter to the company advising it to drop MeeGo and go with Microsoft.

It’s not going to be a happy Valentine’s Day for some.