Intel Disappointed With Nokia's Decision To Adopt Windows Phone-Based Strategy

Despite Nokia's decision to adopt Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system in its mobile devices while pursuing its joint MeeGo venture with Intel on the side, Intel on Friday re-affirmed its commitment to the open-source MeeGo software platform.

Meanwhile, Intel says it will make an announcement regarding the Linux-based MeeGo OS at an event in Barcelona, and said that its strategy in the mobile market in general has not changed, as Nokia is just one of its many partners in that space.

"While we are disappointed with Nokia’s decision, Intel remains committed to MeeGo and welcome Nokia’s continued contribution to MeeGo open source," an Intel spokesperson told CRN on Friday. "Since day one, our strategy has always been to provide choice when it comes to operating systems, a strategy that includes Windows, Android, and MeeGo. This is not changing."

Furthermore, Intel said the open-source MeeGo OS will come to market inside a variety of form factor devices including net books and tablets as well as smart phones.

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"I think it’s important to note, MeeGo is not just a phone OS, it supports multiple devices," Intel's spokesperson said. "And we’re seeing momentum across multiple segments -- automotive systems, netbooks, tablets, set-top boxes and our Intel silicon will be in a phone that ships this year."

First, Intel will need to convince mobile device manufacturers to adopt the platform despite the setback Nokia's decision represents. In addition to moving away from MeeGo as the center of its mobile strategy, Nokia is leading an organizational shakeup that, according to a report from Business Insider on Friday, includes the departure of Alberto Torres, EVP of MeeGo Computers, Mobile Solutions, Nokia's top executive in charge of the platform.

Nokia has reportedly moved away from its original plans to develop several MeeGo devices in favor of a single MeeGo-based product launch later this year. Reuters reported on Wednesday that Nokia had discontinued the development of a MeeGo smartphone device it originally planned to launch this year.

According to several online reports last month, Nokia's upcoming MeeGo-based N9 smartphone featuries a dual-core 1.2 GHz Intel Atom CPU, with a 12-megapixel camera and support for LTE connectivity, to be unveiled next week at Mobile World Congress 2011.

Those plans may now be on hold. The report from Reuters on Wednesday cited two industry insiders as well as a leaked internal Nokia memo in which CEO Stephen Elop reportedly compared Nokia's prolonged anticipation for MeeGo to standing on a burning oil platform trying to decide whether to jump.

Next: Nokia's CEO Says MeeGo Fell Short

"We thought MeeGo would be a platform for winning high-end smartphones," Elop wrote in the memo, according to The Financial Times. "However, at this rate, by the end of 2011, we might have only one MeeGo product in the market."

According to the memo, Nokia sees its lone upcoming MeeGo-based device as an experiment, part of its desire to explore other options aside from Windows Phone OS. Nokia declined to comment on the contents of the memo.

The MeeGo platform was created early last year from the merger of Nokia and Intel's Linux-based platforms Maemo and Moblin, with the goal of challenging Apple and Google in the high-end smartphone market.

However, on Friday during a press conference in London with Microsoft, CEO Steve Ballmer and Elop, Nokia and Microsoft unveiled a broad strategic alliance aimed at developing a mobile device ecosystem around Microsoft's Windows Phone software.

Nokia's decision to partner with Microsoft is part of a broader effort to turn its fortunes around. In May Nokia made sweeping changes to its organizational structure. Nokia brought in former Sun Microsystems executive Rich Green as its new CTO, and appointed Kai Oistamo chief development officer and head of Corporate Development, while re-organizing its business into three groups: Mobile Solutions, Mobile Phones and Markets.

Nokia began its partnership with Intel in 2009, but has not been able to bring a MeeGo-based Intel-powered phone to market since.

Intel and Nokia in August unveiled plans for a joint MeeGo research center in Finland tasked with developing 3D and virtual reality applications and improving user interfaces for mobile devices.

Intel in October pushed back the timeline for launching Nokia devices running MeeGo until 2011, but Intel said the two companies were still on track with their development of the MeeGo platform.