At Nokia's Connection event in Singapore, the handset manufacturer unveiled its first (and last) MeeGo-based phones, the N9 and its developer counterpart, the N950. The N9, once representative of Nokia's vision for its smartphone future, the heir apparent to Nokia's Symbian, is now just a model of "what could have been."

Too bad it's so gorgeous then.

 

Looking Back on MeeGo

The N9 runs MeeGo, the Linux-based operating system announced back in February 2010 as a merger of Nokia's Maemo and Intel's Moblin operating systems. The goal was for MeeGo to become Nokia's compete strategy against the looming threat of the iPhone, and now, Android. It was a high-end OS, capable of running apps, but it was arriving too late.

When CEO Stephen Elop came to Nokia later that fall, he rapidly began a major reorganization and change in direction for the company. Under the new strategy, MeeGo became an open source mobile operating system project, a place where the company could continue to experiment with smartphone concepts, platforms and user experiences. But it was no longer Nokia's future.

Still, Nokia promised it would still ship a MeeGo-related product later this year.

And here it is.

N9 & N950: The Specs

The N9 is the only device being officially detailed at present, as the N950, the developer version of the N9, is of even less importance to Nokia at this time. All we have are some specs, which include a QWERTY keyboard. There aren't even photos.

As for the N9, it's housed in an attractive unibody construction without any front-facing buttons. To unlock the phone, you just double tap.

It features a large, 854x480 3.9-inch AMOLED screen, an 8 megapixel camera with a wide-angle 28 mm Carl Zeiss lens, support for HD video, a decent 1 GHz TI OMAP 3630 processor, and two options for storage: 16 GB or 64 GB. (Yes, Nokia's is actually shipping 2 variants of this MeeGo phone!) And it comes in black, cyan or magenta. The 1450 mAh battery supports up to 7 hours of talk time. And the N9 has a WebKit 2-powered browser, support for Nokia Maps and turn-by-turn navigation and Dolby Digital Plus sound.

It also ships with an NFC chip, which enables functions like photo or business card sharing, as well as the NFC-enabled video game Angry Birds Magic. Other games include Galaxy on Fire 2 and Real Golf 2011. Ovi Store access is included, too, but to what extent is still unclear.

The Software

The most unique thing about the phone, outside of its industrial design of course, is the software. A three-view homescreen organizes your application icons, events (social networking feeds, notifications, missed calls, calendar, etc.) and the apps you have open and running. You can pinch and zoom on this screen to see either 4 or 9 open app icons.

Nokia's Future is Windows Phone

It's lovely, really, but it's nothing more than a collector's item at this point. A love letter to Nokia fans, who wanted to see the MeeGo dream realized.

But as the N9 prepares to launch, it's already dead. It will never gain significant market share. There won't be new and better models in 6 months, or a year. Developers won't flock to the platform. MeeGo, at least on Nokia's devices, is dead.

Meanwhile, CEO Elop said that the first Nokia Windows Phone appears to be on track for a year-end launch. "I have increased confidence that we will launch our first device based on the Windows platform later this year and we will ship our product in volume in 2012," he told the crowd in Singapore.

Please, let it look something like this.