Talking to Ari Jaaski at Nokia World 2009

Published by Rafe Blandford at 22:05 UTC, September 10th 2009

My first query was on the developer story between Maemo 5 and 6, given the change from GTK to Qt, which will break application compatibility and the issues around WRT (Fenne with Gecko versus WebKit). This has led some to ask whether commerical developers should skip Maemo 5 and wait for Maemo 6. Ari Jaaski noted that the developer story was something that 'Nokia need to take very carefully... and do the right thing, which starts with openly telling what we are going to be doing' [which they have already done]. Nokia will be addressing this by 'doing a version of Qt [for Maemo 5] with the community, so that if you choose to do so you can start developing in Qt soon'. However, there will still be an 'evolution and hump to get over', but it is a natural result of a young and rapidly evolving space. Nokia are aware of the problem and will be doing all they can to 'smooth' the transition.

Secondly, I asked how he saw Maemo fitting into Nokia's device portfolio and software platform strategy going forward. Was Maemo, perhaps, a sand box for playing with new technology and services before going to the mass market with Symbian? The reply was interesting, 'Yes, in some areas, but more like a sandbox for taking a more risky approach (leaving some things out/putting something in) and trying things we might not usually do... and with the technology in it, Linux and so forth, you can try things out easily'.

I followed up by asking, bearing in mind the cost implications of supporting multiple platforms, why Maemo and not Symbian (given that the mobile computing experience is largely a UI function and a new UI could have been built on top of Symbian)? There wasn't really a concrete answer to this, although a later follow up suggested that some of the factors were the existing investment in Maemo, and the maturity of the open source components that could be utilised by Maemo together with the ability participate in, and draw on, one of the most active open source areas (Linux). In other words, using the Linux-based Maemo allows a greater proportion of the platform to use software which had already been developed by someone else or could be developed collaboratively. By contrast, a similarly specified Symbian-based platform would have required a greater software investment by Nokia. There's clearly a lot of room for debate here and multiple factors that play into the strategic equation.

Finally, I asked about the complexities involved in keeping to device release schedules (which in the mobile world typically have very tight go/no-go dates), given the lack of control over the timing of updates from upstream contributions which is inherit in open source. Ari Jaaski replied saying that the 'timing issue is always there, but you mediate against it by putting your own resources into a problem (the more you give, the more you get, principally)'. The issue of IPR and licensing was also briefly touched upon (something of an Achilles heel for the commercialisation of Linux-based mobile phones in the past), with the conclusion being that a few years ago it might have been an issue, but Nokia has learnt how to deal with this (architectural design issues, industry comfortable with GPL, etc.) and that it will not be holding Maemo back.

The other attendees also had a chance to ask a wide range of questions. Ricky Cadden (Maemo-Guru), who was part of the group , recorded the 30-minute session on his Nokia N86, which he later uploaded the video to Viddler (embedded below). So you can hear some of the other questions, if you wish.

blog comments powered by Disqus



Welcome to All About MeeGo. We provide news, reviews, tutorials and resources about the Meego platform.

Also All About

External Links