I am one of the priviledged few people in the world to own and use the exclusive and elusive Nokia N9. This is the wonder device with an amazing OS embedded in one of the most amazing hardware on mobile ever.
That OS has been branded MeeGo. However, the N9 does not really run MeeGo, because MeeGo wasn’t quite ready.
The N9 Is Not MeeGo
The Nokia N9 runs Maemo/Harmattan. Maemo was Nokia’s purpose built OS for tablets. It has powered a number of iterations of Nokia touchscreen tablets for years, the last being the N900, which I also reviewed here some time ago.
The N9 does not run MeeGo.
So, note: MeeGo wasn’t ready. On that, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop was right. Let us settle that once and for all. I have used the N9 till today, and I am convinced of that.
Even Maemo/Harmattan Isn’t Quite Ready
So, Nokia came up with an amazing device that runs Maemo/Harmattan branded as MeeGo. Problem solved. Who cares; right?
If you have been reading Mobility blog for a few months, you will have read my raving reviews and commentaries on the N9. All those positives remain valid. But here are the kind of issues that suggest to me that Maemo/Harmattan is not quite ready for mainstream consumers.
Take a look at these instructions:
Activate “Developer mode” by going to: Settings > Security > Developer mode. It’s OFF by default. Turn it ON.
After having it activated, you will find a “Terminal” app button under application menu.
Open it and you need to execute these commands (one command per line):
gconftool –recursive-unset /system/http_proxy
gconftool –recursive-unset /system/proxy
gconftool –recursive-unset /system/osso
I am betting my salary that if you are not a computer gizmo, you have no clue what those instructions are. I am betting that you have no interest in typing those Linux commands on your phone, except you live on command line instructions.
Well, those instructions are the only known way to solve a problem with the built-in Twitter app not working on the N9. Go figure.
For a long time, everything worked fine on my N9, then suddenly Twitter stopped connecting. Nothing I did worked. I restarted the device, checked my connections and even spoke to it (who knows?). Nada.
Finally, I got on the internet, and found that the only solution was the above steps. Now, I am more computer and mobile savvy than most people, but I can assure you that I didn’t feel any happier that I had found a solution. This solution sucks for the average consumer. It sucks for me too. Honest.
There are users with similar issues with the built-in Facebook app as well. There are some indications that adding multiple Google accounts on the N9 seems to corrupt the something somewhere (I’m deliberately avoiding geek-speak here).
Maemo, MeeGo, Mini, Mo
I love the Swipe UI of the Nokia N9, and thankfully Nokia say that they are implementing that on other devices. The N9 works well in almost every other way. But do ask yourself, “Do I want to become a Linux enthusiast in order to troubleshoot my smartphone?”
I’m betting that your answer is a big No – at least for most of you.
Troubleshooting Maemo/MeeGo devices will thrill geeks and nerds. But not the mainstream consumer. I am finally believing that Nokia made a good call dumping this platform.
Windows Phone, Anyone?
Windows Phone has a sleek, elegant user interface, but lacks too many functionality that Nokia fans have been used to. Too many.
as such, Nokia fans are caught in a tough place – Maemo/MeeGo not quite ready, Symbian has been pronounced dead (though it has stubbornly refused to die, the developer apathy to the platform is serious), and Windows Phone is so, so different.
Get Over It
Let’s get over it, guys: while the Nokia N9 is an amazing device and gets the job done, if and when you have issues, you know you don’t want to do the gobbledegook that is required to solve those problems.
Oh, plus, there are just too few apps available for the platform. It simply would be an uphill task getting apps to flood the market for it.
Running with Maemo/MeeGo simply would have been a strenous, uphill task for Nokia.
Still, I must commend the great job done by the small team that came up with the N9. Pulling this off in a matter of months, even after your CEO had declared your work as destined for the labs was amazing. Hat tip, guys.
But truth be told, this baby is not ready for mainstream consumerism yet.
Should You Get The N9?
Sure; it just depends on who you are. If you are a hardcore mobile enthusiast; yes do get it. If you love to use an exclusive device and stand out like I do, yes; do get one.
If you are also not an app junkie, by all means do get one.
Fortunately, I am both a hardcore mobile person and a lover of the finest in exclusivity. Plus, I use the barest minimum of 3rd party apps on my mobiles. As such, I am covered on all ends.
Now, do excuse me while I [grudgingly] go do the gobbledegook instructions required to get my Twitter account working on my N9 again. Don’t beef.
Founder of MobilityArena. Yomi’s journey in mobile started in 2001. Besides obsessing over mobile phones, he also started creating WAP sites (early mobile-friendly websites created with HDML/WML). He began writing about phones in 2004 and has been at it since then. He has owned over 200 devices, from Symbian, Palm, PocketPC/Windows Mobile, BlackBerry/BB10, webOS, Windows Phone, Firefox, Ubuntu Touch, to Android, iOS, and KaiOS operating systems.