I've been impressed with the amount of Mobile Web action we've seen already in 2007. With Apple's iPhone, Google doing deals in Asia, Yahoo ramping up its Go platform, Microsoft hyping up Windows Mobile, small players like Dada doing good business, and innovative startups like Sharpcast and Smartpox, things are looking very bullish for mobile. And of course the traditional mobile phone companies are doing their bit too for the Mobile Web. We've already covered The Gizmo Project (which Nokia has partnered with) and in November network operator 3 released an excellent suite of Mobile Web services called X-Series.
Now Nokia has unveiled a new "Internet Tablet" device, called the N800. It looks very impressive and MobileCrunch reviewer Oliver Starr gave it a rave review. What's most interesting from a Web perspective is the development platform that Nokia is attempting to build around this, and similar, devices. Nokia has a website devoted to this effort, called Maemo. It's described as follows:
"Maemo is an open source development platform to create applications for Nokia Internet Tablet products like Nokia N800 and Nokia 770. The platform gives developers a powerful Linux based development environment and optimized end-user interface for handhelds."
Not only is Maemo an opportunity for developers to create apps for Nokia Internet Tablets, the platform is made from open source technologies and in particular Linux. PC World recently did a write-up on how players like Nokia and Motorola are "looking to open-source platforms as ways to bring down costs, add flexibility, and finally turn the phone from a voice-focused appliance into the "multimedia computer" Nokia executives keep insisting it is."
Of course this puts Nokia in the crosshairs of Microsoft, who want their Windows Mobile OS to be the dominant platform. Interestingly the Linux platform on mobile was foreseen by Russell Beattie back in 2005, when he wrote a post entitled The Future of Mobility is Linux (which also mentions the possible impact of an iPhone!).
The list of applications on Maemo is already long, so this looks like just the beginning of a fruitful open source software initiative from Nokia. The Mobile Web needs both stylish and knock-yer-socks-off hardware (iPhone and N800) and open platforms for Internet software. Nokia looks to have both right now.