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Nokia Developing ‘Meltemi’ Linux-based Mobile Operating System

After getting into partnership with Microsoft Windows Phone handsets, the Finish company abandoned its ambition to develop a high-end operating system, is shifting its programming efforts toward creating software for its low-end phones. According to people familiar with the matter, Nokia is readying another mobile operating system.

The project code-named “Meltemi,” is a Linux-based operating system, and is headed by Mary McDowell, the executive vice-president for mobile phones. “Meltemi” is a Greek origin, and relates to the dry summer winds that are experienced over the Aegean Sea from the north. Nokia’s spokesman, Doug Dawson, refused to comment on the claims after being contacted by the Wall Street Journal.

The introduction of another new operating system to the market is unusual, and Nokia’s attempt to build its own software is another sign that the value in the technology industry is shifting from hardware to software. In the past year, Google’s Android software has dominated the midrange smartphone market while Apple’s iPhone, which runs Apple’s iOS software, has captured the high end.

Nokia’s efforts mirror those of South Korea’s Samsung, which is investing in its own operating system called “Bada” and making high-end smartphones that run Android. The issue for Nokia, says one of the people familiar with the matter, is that even consumers in emerging markets now expect low-end feature phones to act like smartphones. Feature phones offer limited Internet functionality and are used mainly for voice and text communications.

For Nokia, the low-end mobile-phone business is crucial to its survival. Feature phones accounted for about 47% of the company’s device-and-services sales in the second quarter.

The Meltemi OS and feature phones it is aimed seek to make a dent in emerging economies. They are aimed at countries which previously may not have offered the same number of people the same access to cellular devices.

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