With Exec Departure, Nokia MeeGo Rollout in Doubt

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mobiletv.jpgADOTAS – Nokia’s Symbian boasts the largest smartphone OS share in the world, but next to no traction in the U.S. Indeed, Nokia’s share has been slipping while Android and the iOS are making inroads globally.

It doesn’t help matters that the Finnish handset-maker has been bleeding execs in the past few months, including CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo (replaced by Stephen Elop, a Canadian Microsoft veteran) and EVP Anssi Vanjoki, who was head of mobile solutions. Now Ari Jaaksi, VP in charge of MeeGo-powered devices, has jumped ship, making many in the tech media question wonder if Nokia will be able to deliver its first MeeGo device by the end of the year as promised.

Combining Intel’s Moblin and Nokia’s Maemo project, MeeGo is a Linux-based, open-source mobile OS unveiled in February at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. N9, which appeared last month in China, will be the first device powered by the nascent operating system. Russian journalist Eldar Murtazin, who has been leaked Nokia gadgets in the past, got his hands on the new toy and said the hardware is excellent, the operating system not so much. “It’s a work in progress,” he wrote.

TechCrunch notes that former Palm man Peter Skillman, who has some juicy opinions regarding the mobile experience, has silently taken the helm of MeeGo user experiences and services.

Nokia recently released the N8, which is powered by the third generation of its Symbian software. Don’t count on Nokia ever implementing Android, as the departing Vanjoki compared handset-makers employing the Google mobile OS to “Finnish boys who pee in their pants for warmth” — that is, a short-term solution that leads to long-term troubles.

The company seems determined to penetrate the elusive U.S. market, as it recently acquired mobile analytics firm Motally to buoy its Ovi app store. But such high-level turnover suggests and early product reviews suggest that goal is still a ways off. Should American marketers and ad tech firms buck up on Nokia’s platforms? Could they really become competitors to iOS, Android and RIM? If so, than when?

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